116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
State regents next week will consider having the state conduct a study of the functions of Iowa's two special schools that are overseen by the board, a required step if the board wanted to merge the two schools or close either one.
The Board of Regents, during a meeting next week in Cedar Falls, will consider approval for board staff to contact the Iowa Department of Management to conduct a feasibility study to examine "administrative and programmatic functions" of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School in Vinton and the Iowa School for the Deaf in Council Bluffs, according to the agenda information. The regents meeting information was released today.
Appropriate next steps will be taken after the study is conducted, though the agenda item does not say what those next steps might be.
Iowa Code specifies that the regents cannot merge the two schools or close either of the schools until the Department of Management has presented to the general assembly a comprehensive plan, program and fiscal analysis of the existing circumstances and the circumstances which would prevail upon the proposed merger or closing. The analysis must include a detailed study of the educational implications of the merger or closing, the impact on the students, and the opinions and research of nationally recognized experts in the field of the education of visually impaired and deaf students. The general assembly also must study the plans, programs, and fiscal analysis and review their impact on the programs, and the general assembly must enact legislation authorizing either the closing or the merger to take effect not sooner than two years after the enactment.
The Iowa School for the Deaf and Iowa Educational Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired operate under the direction of the Board of Regents as two separate entities. The board at its March meeting appointed braille school Superintendent Patrick Clancy to a joint position as the head of the School for the Deaf, a move met with some opposition in the deaf community because Clancy is not fluent in sign language.
The regents meeting information said "in order to plan for future effective and efficient
operation of services for students with sensory impairments, it is necessary to determine the
feasibility of examining the administrative and programmatic functions of the two schools."
Doing so addresses the board's strategic plan priorities to provide “educational
excellence and impact; and economic development and vitality," and the strategic plan goal that “Iowa's public universities and special schools shall be increasingly efficient and productive," according to the meeting information.
State appropriations for Iowa's special schools have significantly decreased in the recent past, according to the regent meeting information. This has resulted in work force reductions and other
expenditure decreases by the two schools.
The Iowa School for the Deaf was founded in 1854 and moved to its current location in 1870. It serves more than 100 Iowa students on its campus each year through a combined residential and day-school attendance, and about 10 students from Nebraska under a contract agreement.
Services provided by the Iowa Educational Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired are centralized on the campus of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School in Vinton, which was established in 1852 and moved to its present location in 1862. Each year, Iowa Educational Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired serves more than 500 students statewide through a partnership agreement with the Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Department for the Blind, and Area Education Agencies.