Proposal would close Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Proposal would close Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School

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VINTON (KWWL) -- In its 148 years, the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School has helped thousands of visually impaired students overcome their disability.

On Thursday the Iowa Board of Regents approved a plan to close the school. According to the proposal closing the school will save $2.2 million dollars, but the money will go to hiring more teachers.

The superintendent of the school, Patrick Clancy says the education will continue for the visually impaired student, just closer to home.

"What it means for the future is that we will design alternative ways. We'll put more intensity into services around the state so that the need for residential services is minimized and we can provide for the services closer to where the children reside in the future," Clancy said.

The cost of an education has increased dramatically over the past few years at the school. In 1993 it cost $53,000 a student, last year it cost $246,000. School officials say practices were outdated and needed to be improved.

Since 1972 enrollment has dropped from 119 students to just nine last year. Federal law encourages disabled children to attend traditional public schools.

"For many of the individuals that come here... Coming here and then going back home is a natural part of what happens. Some people will come here for a semester or a year or two, but a vast majority of their educational career is really offered at home," Clancy said.

As for the Vinton campus, it will still provide some services and house the administration for a renamed Iowa Educational Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

The regents will recommend the change to the Iowa State Legislature, and the plan could be finalized by the fall of 2012.

Online Reporter: John Wilmer

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