Iowa Board of Regents

The End of an Era

The Board of Regents will consider approval to sell the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School to the city of Vinton at its November meeting. The property, which includes 11 buildings on 48 acres, will be sold to the city for one dollar, if approved.

“The city of Vinton and the Braille school have been very cooperative during this three-year process,” said John Nash, director of facilities for the Board of Regents. “We’re excited to be able to transfer this property to the city for its future use and we are glad that these facilities will remain under local control.”

The property sale follows a shift in the way the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School educates students. In February 2008, the Board of Regents, the Iowa State Board of Education, the Iowa Department for the Blind and the Association of Area Education Agencies created the Statewide System for Vision Services, a coordinated system of services for blind and visually impaired students. The system benefits from multiple funding sources, with the four mentioned agencies sharing responsibility for its success.

With just 16 students on the Vinton campus in 2008 - down from 119 in 1972 - a more decentralized approach to educating blind and visually impaired students was necessary. Rebranded as Iowa Educational Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired following the closure of the Vinton campus in 2011, the school provides services and resources in students’ hometown districts, rather than just in Vinton.

“The city is in a better position to utilize these facilities than we are,” Nash said. “The transfer makes a lot of sense and benefits all involved.”

Currently, more than half of the site is leased to the federal government as a regional site for AmeriCorps. Sale of the property is contingent upon successful assignment of this lease to the city and the federal government’s acceptance of the assignment.
The sale, if approved, will bookend a campus history that began in 1852, making the IBSSS the second-oldest educational institution in Iowa. Its services and commitment to educating the blind and visually impaired live on through IESBVI.

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