Members of the Kentucky School for the Blind (KSB) Advisory Board discussed the new school year and upgrades to facilities during their meeting on Sept. 21.
KSB Principal Peggy Sinclair-Morris told the board the new school year is off to a great start.
“It’s nice to be able to focus on deeper learning and not everything revolving around COVID protocols,” she said.
School leaders and the KSB community have been gradually improving accessibility across the campus and developing plans for more improvements, including more wheelchair-accessible sidewalks.
“The student population, over the past 20 years, has changed. You don’t have kids that are just blind and visually impaired; you have kids that have additional disabilities,” Sinclair-Morris said. “So, kids with more complex needs – possibly kids that are in wheelchairs or use walkers or some sort of mobility device – we’re seeing more and more of that.”
And for the first time since 2020, the Samuel J. Richie Building is operational. Issues with the heating and air conditioning system forced the building’s closure, but after significant repairs, the facility can be used again. Sinclair-Morris said some staff members have moved their offices into the building, and music classes will resume in the building in October.
“We always had our graduation and music programs there,” she said, calling the building a “significant part of the community.”
Sinclair-Morris said the goal is to have the auditorium inside the building in use by the May graduation ceremony, if not earlier.
The repairs were funded with money from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund. ESSER funding supports the safe and sustained return to in-person learning and expands equity by supporting students who need it most, particularly those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
KSB also has begun using a communication tool called Remind that connects KSB teachers and students’ families. Sinclair-Morris said teachers can let parents know more about what’s happening in the classroom through the app.
“The personal feedback I’ve gotten is that parents really like it because you can customize it to be individual to your child,” she said.
In other business:
- New KDE Director of State Schools Shannon Sparkman and Shelley Badgett, director of special education for the KDE Division of State Schools, introduced themselves to the council. Sparkman began her role Aug. 1 and will oversee both KSB and the Kentucky School for the Deaf in Danville.
The next KSB Advisory Board meeting will be held March 21, 2024.