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    Document Summary
    - Report Published -

    House Document No. 42
    PUBLICATION YEAR 2004

    Document Title
    Plan For Consolidating Services For The Deaf, Blind, And Multi-Disabled Students Served By Virginia's Two Schools At Staunton And Hampton

    Author
    Secretary of Administration; Secretary of Education; Secretary of Finance; Secretary of Health and Human Resources

    Enabling Authority
    Appropriation Act - Item 135 F. (Special Session I, 2004)

    Executive Summary
    Item 135.F., Chapter 4, Special Session 1, 2004 Acts of Assembly, requires the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Resources, Administration, and Finance, together with the Board of Education, the Department of Education, the two schools for the deaf, blind and multi-disabled, the Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center, the Department of General Services, and the Department of Planning and Budget to:

    • Complete a capital needs assessment and feasibility study for consolidating the State’s two existing schools for the deaf, blind, and multi-disabled

    • Submit a joint report on the capital needs assessment and feasibility study to the Governor and the Chairmen of the House Committees on Appropriations and Education, and the Senate Committees on Finance and Education and Health

    • Include a suggested timeline of steps necessary to achieve a well-planned consolidation of the two existing schools at the new location no later than September 1, 2007, including the closing of the existing sites and the disposition of the properties as well as a mechanism to assist the school divisions with program development for those children who will not continue at the new school

    In response, the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Resources, Administration, and Finance, together with the Board of Education, the Department of Education, the two schools for the deaf, blind and multi-disabled, the Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center, the Department of General Services and the Department of Planning and Budget have developed the enclosed report. The premise for the requirement for this plan is that the facility costs and duplication of administrative services currently reflected for the two schools detract from the provision of a cost-effective, state-of-the-art program for students with sensory impairment. Funding is diverted and existing resources are not fully used. As directed, the report considers construction of a new VSDB to provide a unique, state-of-the art campus. The mission of the new school is articulated and an architectural program is identified. Site selection guidelines are provided to assist with the identification of a central location for the new school. A proposed master plan drawing is included with an opinion of probable cost.

    The needs of children placed at the two schools have become increasingly complex. To respond to this changing population, children with sensory impairments in the new school will be provided with educational services that are designed for maximum access to the general curriculum. The location will be a central one that supports the goal of improved state coordination of services for children who are either deaf or blind. The new school will increase needed partnerships with school divisions, the Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI), the Department for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing (DDHH), adult rehabilitative services and other appropriate agencies. The goal of consolidation and building a new school is to offer an exemplary program to replace existing services. The intended benefits through consolidating the existing programs at the new school include the following:

    • Location of the campus at a central location that has easy access to interstate travel systems
    • Improved instruction for the deaf and the blind in classrooms through technology, facility design, and allocation of resources
    • A continuum of program options for students at one site
    • A single point of admission for all students in the state
    • Improved facilities, carefully designed for all with appropriate lighting systems, acoustic criteria, and applicable building standards
    • Reduction of the current operating costs associated with duplication of services
    • Reduction of utilities costs associated with outdated energy systems and buildings
    • Improved support to parents and communities (American Sign Language (ASL) instruction, parent training, counseling)
    • Increased admission of students from school divisions and improved length of stay
    • Coordination of services in the state through formal partnerships with appropriate agencies, colleges and universities
    • Provision of training to increase the pool of qualified teachers and interpreters
    • Provision of technical assistance to school divisions
    • Improved climate for teacher recruitment and retention
    • Provision of outreach services for improving services for children with sensory impairments
    • Provision of a professional development center
    • Provision of a parent resource center

    Among the many benefits of building an entirely new campus, the most important one is the improvement that can be realized for the learning and living environments of the students. In recent years, the design of buildings for the education and residential life of the deaf and the blind populations has established standards for improving the quality of space configuration, acoustics, and lighting that enhance communication and cognitive development for the children. The new campus will be designed throughout based on established accessibility guidelines for sensory impaired and physically disabled individuals. The new campus will be a state-of-the-art educational and home-like environment for the educational benefit of the students. The benefits of recent advances in design standards for the sensory impaired and physically disabled cannot be achieved satisfactorily at the existing campuses.