Council Bluffs, IA (KPTM) – Soon about 105 deaf and blind students in Iowa may have to find a new school. Officials are looking to save money—which could mean closing some places.
They're going to discuss these ways at a public meeting next Monday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Lied Multipurpose Complex in Council Bluffs.
The Iowa Education Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired and Iowa School for the Deaf is conducting a study to find ways to they can provide services to students who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind and visually impaired without exceeding their $20 million budget and without compromising their education.
John Isaacson, a football captain at Iowa School for the Deaf, is open to any proposed option. But he said he loves attending this school the most.
Partially because the camera is on them—but besides this—these six students, who are deaf of hard of hearing, enjoy staying a little late after class at a school they'd be sad to see close.
"When I transferred to ISD it was just like a dramatic change for my personality," said Isaacson. "My confidence grew! I was able to show people who I really am."
But the fact is Iowa School for the Deaf in Council Bluffs closing is a possibility.
The Board of Regents recently appointed a committee to look into ways to combine the students under one roof or create a regional model that will have four to five locations in the state within an hour drive to receive services.
The challenge though is choosing an option that saves money and improves education quality for deaf and hard of hearing students attending Iowa School for the Deaf, blind and visually impaired students attending the Iowa Education Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Vinton and students with similar conditions attending public schools.
"Whether they need to come to a school for the deaf or whether they can receive their education in another community we want to be able to work with those other communities to make sure that students get what they need," said ISD's Superintendent Patrick Clancy.
Four of the eight options focus on having just one campus: centrally in the state, the current Iowa Braille School campus in Vinton, the current ISD in Council Bluffs.
They'll weigh the pros and cons of each option.
If they consolidate both schools into one location in Vinton, students at ISD can relocate there or attend public schools in locally.
While Isaacson feels regional centers and public schools are fine, his teachers at ISD know sign language.
He said this is an advantage that cancels out all other proposed options.
"It's direct communication to my teacher. Interpreters can't always catch everything that the teacher says."
"If they're in a class with many other students who can hear and an interpreter, the teacher keeps talking the entire period," said Jenn Herzog who teaches math at ISD. "And that student can watch the interpreter, but every time they look down they're missing information."
Only a timeline will tell the final outcome.
The committee is aiming to bring something to the board some time this November through December.
Once the Board of Regents approves an option they will pass it on to the legislature. They will review it in their upcoming session next year.
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