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NC Department of Health and Human Services Division of Services for the Blind

Commission for the Blind Meeting Minutes

March 13, 2010

Due to budget restrictions, this meeting was held by conference call.  The out-of-town members were connected via telephone while the Raleigh-based members met in the conference room of Fisher Building in Raleigh, NC.

Call to Order, Invocation, and Pledge of Allegiance

Chair Beth Butler called the 301th meeting of the NC Commission for the Blind to order at 10:05 a.m. on Saturday, March 13, 2010.  Graham Watt offered the invocation. The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.

Allen Casey was appointed as parliamentarian. 

Chair Beth Butler welcomed everyone and reminded members of the Ethics Awareness and Conflict of Interest order.  If any board member has any known conflict with respect to any matters coming before the Board, please identify the conflict or appearance of conflict and refrain from any undue participation in the particular matter involved. 

Present in the conference room were:  Mary Flanagan, Cynthia Speight, Julie Kagy, Graham Watt, Gary Ray, Dan Bernstein, Cynthia Joos, Dr. Gropper, David Arthur, Dr. Chamblee, Beth Harris, Maria Spaulding, and Carla Parker. 

Connected by conference call were:  Beth Butler, Ruth Haines,  Eddie Weaver, Allen Casey, Tommy Jenkins, Terri Meyers, Richard Oliver, Joann Wood, and Kim Lambert.

Approval of Minutes

A motion was made by Graham Watt, seconded by Richard Oliver, and carried to approve the minutes of the December
12, 2009 meeting. 


Public Relations Committee—Eddie Weaver

The committee has not met but Mr. Weaver did receive an e-mail from Julie Kagy regarding a conference the VI Program will be sponsoring.  This would be a good time to make the VI Program participants aware of services offered by DSB.

Intercommittee Relations—Ruth Haines

Ms. Haines reported on the Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC).  The SILC is now a 501C3 compliant non-profit organization.  SILC’s office is located at 401 Oberlin Road, Suite 115, Raleigh, NC  27605.  The Chair is Barbara Davis. 

Ms. Haines will report on Centers for Independent Living at a later date.  In particularly, the relationship between the SILC and rehab agencies. 

Advocacy Committee—Tommy Jenkins

Mr. Jenkins brought up the recent schedule change at GMS and the 2 deaf schools.  This disrupts the child and the child’s family.  This was implemented to save money.  The past schedule for the residential students brought the students in Sunday afternoon late and then returning them home on Fridays after lunch.  In an effort to save $200,000, a decision was made to start bringing the students in on Monday morning and extend each school day. Then send the students home late Friday afternoon.  Some of these students are coming from Brevard, Charlotte, and Hickory.  This means some students are leaving their homes as early as 3 a.m. on Monday’s so they can meet the bus. 

A motion was made by Ruth Haines, seconded by Richard Oliver, and moved that the Advocacy Committee within the Commission for the Blind develop a letter to DHHS regarding their concern of the new transportation policy at the 3 residential schools.  Mrs. Flanagan will review this letter before submitting to DHHS.

Mr. Jenkins also discussed the topic of merger.  Mrs. Flanagan reported that after meetings with DHHS, there are not any plans for merger at this time.  The topic keeps coming up year after year.  Discussion was held regarding if the Commission should make a motion regarding the merger issue.  Deputy Secretary Spaulding assured the committee that there are no plans at this time to merge DSB, DVR, and DSDHH.  No further areas within DSB, DVR, and DSDHH need to be merged at this time.  Chair Butler asked Deputy Secretary Spaulding if she needed any additional information in case the topic should arise.  Mrs. Spaulding replied DHHS does not need anything at this time. Mrs. Spaulding will send a report that DHHS presented last year to Mary Flanagan.  Mrs. Flanagan will then share with the Commission members.

Personnel Development Committee—Julie Kagy and Beth Harris

Dr. Beth Harris reported that NCCU is continuing its Fast Track Program for teachers who need additional classes to finish their coursework for licensure.  It is set up that during the school year, teachers take courses on-line and during the summer, classes are offered on the campus of the Governor Morehead School.  A grant with RSA provides tuition funding.  Twenty-Eight students are currently enrolled. 

Mrs. Flanagan report that DSB has received approval to offer internships to students who are working on their Master’s Degree that will lead to certification in VRT or low vision. 

Acting Director’s Report—Mary Flanagan

Maria Spaulding reported on the delay in hiring a Director for DSB.  Mrs. Spaulding thanked Mrs. Flanagan for her leadership during this interim period.  Mrs. Spaulding could not provide a time for hiring a permanent DSB Director. 

DSB’s Leadership training—Talks have been held with the Technical Assistance Center through RSA about providing a pre-supervisory/leadership training for staff. Training will begin in April, there will be 4 sessions, and training is being conducted by GA State University.  Sixteen DSB staff from across the State will participate in the training. 

DSB has hired 2 full-time temporary transition positions.  These positions are funded by recovery money.  Ms. Tannis Steele is located in the Greenville District Office and Dr. Michael Milapovich is located in the Asheville District Office.  They will be visiting school districts meeting with EC Directors, teachers, parents, students and professionals. 

Budget—DHHS asked each Division to perform an exercise demonstrating what each Division would do in case they had to cut 3%, 5%, or 7% of its budget.  DSB decided to make the cuts across all programs.  There is a possibility that one of DSB’s programs may merge with Aging and Adult Services.  This is tentative at this point.  At the 3% and 5% level, all of our services would still be provided.  At the 7% level, services would be seriously impacted.

Rehabilitation Center Renovations—DSB has received approval from DHHS and the Office of Economic Recovery to do the renovations.  This will consist of renovating the restrooms, one classroom, and windows will be replaced. 

Professional Advisory Committee—Cynthia Joos

On February 22, the Medical Eye Care Program began issuing certifications for eyeglasses and cataract surgery. As of March 3, $210,000 was encumbered; expenditures were $565,000, with a remaining balance of approximately $1.1 million. 

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee—Gary Ray

A number of Commission for the Blind members, along with Senator Purcell and a representative from the NC Association for the Deaf, attended yesterday’s CAAC. 

The CAAC continues to explore with the legislature a change in the governance of the schools for the blind and deaf.

Concern was expressed about the length of time it has taken to fill DSB’s Director Position.

The CAAC voted on a position in opposition of the recent schedule change at the residential schools because of their health and safety, education, and quality of family life. 

The CAAC voted to strongly support the existence of separate and independent VR services in NC.  As much merging has been done that can be done. 

The CAAC has been asked for feedback from GMS and OES on the model of the future of the blind school.  Barbria Bacon presented their plan to the CAAC. 

There was concern from the CAAC about the report from OES and DPI about the future of education of the blind in NC.  The CAAC requested a copy of the report in a timely manner so feedback can be provided to the legislature. 

Deputy Secretary Maria Spaulding reported that a recommendation regarding schools will be posted on DHHS’s website.  The report has yet been finalized. 

Gary Ray reported on the super conference “NC Conference on Visual Impairments and Blindness” which will be held on the GMS campus on March 26 and 27.  Mr. Ray invited Mrs. Spaulding to attend. 

Old Business

Graham Watt reminded the group that the Statement of Economic Interest forms are due April 15.

New Business

A number of Commission members term will be expiring in June.  Any members that would like to be re-appointed, please e-mail Chair Butler. 


The 301st Commission for the Blind meeting adjourned at 12:05.

Respectfully submitted,

Beth Butler, Chair, Commission for the Blind                   
Mary Flanagan, Acting Director, Division of Services for the Blind

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