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Minutes – Executive Committee Meeting, Aug. 3, 2011


Call to Order

The Executive Committee of the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities convened on August 3, 2011 in the Goldenrod Room at the Hilton Austin Airport, 9515 Hotel Drive, Austin, TX 78719. Council Chair Brenda Coleman-Beattie called the meeting to order at 3:40 PM.

1. Introductions

Committee members and staff were introduced.

2. Public Comments

The Committee received public comments from Thelma Scott of the Barbara Jordan Endeavors Corporation. Ms. Scott expressed appreciation for the $10,000 grant for an Outreach and Development project. Scott also indicated that her organization partnered with another organization to jointly develop a proposal to another TCDD Request for Proposals (RFP). However, the other organization decided to submit an application alone. Coleman-Beattie thanked Ms. Scott for making the Council aware of the situation and suggested the Project Development Committee discuss this matter at a future Committee meeting.

3. Approval of Minutes

The Committee reviewed the minutes from the May 4, 2011, Committee meeting.

MOTION: To approve May 4, 2011, Executive Committee meeting minutes as presented.

MADE BY: John Morris

SECOND: Rick Tisch

The motion passed unanimously.

4. Chair’s Report

Coleman-Beattie indicated that seven members have indicated they are not attending these meetings: Kimberly Blackmon, Andy Crim, Mary Durheim, Marcia Dwyer, Deneesa Rasmussen, Lora Taylor, Penny Seay, UT Center for Disability Studies. She also noted that the TEA representative, Kathy Clayton, and alternate, Margaret Christen, have both separated from TEA. Another TEA staff member will attend these meetings. Council Member Deneesa Rasmussen submitted her resignation due to challenges in scheduling. New appointments or reappointments are expected in September.

After reviewing anticipated discussion items for these meetings, Coleman-Beattie decided to conduct all business as a full body meeting as the Council or as a Committee of the Whole. The Project Development Committee and Public Policy Committee will not meet this quarter. Coleman-Beattie asked for feedback about this format following the meetings.

Council Vice-Chair John Morris was recently elected to the Board of the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD). John has actively participated on different NACDD workgroups including substantive involvement in planning for NACDD annual conferences as well as the recent Technical Assistance Institute.

Coleman-Beattie discussed national conferences that members may want to consider attending including the 2011 Southwest Conference on Disability in Albuquerque, NM in October; the NACDD Fall Conference in Washington, DC in November; and the Alliance for Full Participation 2011 Summit in Washington, DC in November.

Coleman-Beattie indicated that Public Policy Committee Chair Rick Tisch has asked to step aside as Chair of that Committee. Susan Vardell indicates she is interested in continuing as Chair of the Project Development Committee. Coleman-Beattie has discussed the Public Policy Committee chair position with other Council members but most have declined due to time constraints. Tisch will continue to serve as the Public Policy Committee Chair through the November 2011 meeting.

5. Executive Director’s Report

Executive Director Roger Webb indicated that Web Administrator Rosalinda Lopez and Grants Management Director Patrice LeBlanc both retired from state service during the past quarter. Public Policy Director Angela Lello left TCDD in July after accepting a Joseph Kennedy Fellowship for the next year in Washington, D.C. Public Policy Specialist Cassie Laws-Fisher expects to return from maternity leave around November 1st. Webb also indicated that Communications Coordinator Melissa Loe now directly supervises public information and communications activities, including supervision of website maintenance managed by part-time contract employee Annette Berksan. Senior Grants Management Specialist Sonya Hosey is serving as interim Grants Management Director. Webb hopes to begin the recruitment and selection process for the director positions in late August or early September.

Hosey is currently attending the first Gulf Coast African American Family Support Conference in Houston hosted by TCDD grantee Parents Anonymous. In addition, Hosey has also been asked to serve as Conference Planning Chair for the Central Texas African American Family Support Conference. Public Policy Specialist Belinda Carlton and Public Policy Assistant Melissa Rosser will help staff a booth sponsored by DD Councils at the National Conference on State Legislators in San Antonio in mid-August. Various DD Councils, including TCDD, provided materials for the booth.

Webb provided a summary of bills with administrative impact and noted that very few have any notable impact on TCDD administrative functions other than the change in sunset review schedules. The Sunset Review process for TCDD and other state health and human services agencies was postponed until 2015 with agency self-evaluations likely beginning in summer 2013. Employee salaries and benefits were not changed.

TCDD federal funds for FY 2011 will be 0.02% less than funding for FY 2010, a reduction of $10,213. Funding for FY 2012 funding has not yet been determined by Congress.

The Committee discussed options to hold November 2011 meetings outside of Austin. Chair Coleman-Beattie asked staff to research options for a location with a more relaxed environment for those meetings to provide an opportunity for members to become better acquainted with each other while still conducting the Council’s business. Information about Lakeway Resort on Lake Travis and Embassy Suites in San Marcos was reviewed. The Committee agreed to discuss this further with the Council.

Following discussion during the May Council meeting, options have also been explored to hold the May 2012 meeting in El Paso, Houston, or Dallas – Ft. Worth. Free meeting space offered in El Paso by Mateo Delgado is not available for at least another year due to property renovations. Information concerning sites in the other locations was reviewed. Meeting in other locations offers an opportunity for the public to provide input to the Council and Committees. Members also discussed ways to arrange opportunities for input from around the state in other formats such as town hall meetings with video feeds that would allow Council Members in those areas to attend. Coleman-Beattie added that input for the Biennial Disability Report could be obtained through regional meetings and would like this option to be explored once a Public Policy Director has been hired. Webb noted that the Committee will later discuss the proposal for TCDD support of public input at Council meetings but that this discussion of town hall meetings, video technology, etc., provides other ideas of ways to obtain input from the public. Further discussion will take place with the entire Council.

Webb discussed an opportunity to apply for funds from the Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD) for Projects of National Significance to improve employment outcomes for youth and young adults with developmental disabilities. Webb convened a consortium of representatives from DARS, DADS, TEA, HHSC, and other organizations to discuss this RFP. After several meetings, a decision was made to not submit an application due to limited agency staffing resources at this time. The group however agreed to continue discussions around “Employment First” strategies and best practices and to discuss policy issues.

6. Grants Activities Reports

Webb and Grants Management Specialist Cynthia Ellison reviewed the Independent Audit Status Report and the Grants Monitoring Exceptions Report and noted that no concerns were found by staff.

7. Continuation Grants Awards

Grants Specialist Wendy Jones reviewed the executive summary for the Arc of Texas Microboard Collaboration project. She reminded members of this project’s request last year to increase funding by $9,200 and the Committee’s decision to allow that increase provided that funds in following years were decreased by a similar amount. For year 4, Arc proposes a reduction of $4,628 for a total request of $69,893. (Attachment 1 – PDF, 20KB, 1 page)

MOTION: To approve continuation grant funding for the Arc of Texas Microboard Collaboration project for up to $69,893 for year 4 of 5.

MADE BY: Rick Tisch

SECOND: Brenda Coleman-Beattie

The motion passed without opposition. Susan Vardell abstained from the vote, noting that a Microboard has been established to assist with the care of her son Michael.

Webb reviewed the request for continuation funding from Parents Anonymous for the Gulf Coast African American Family Support Conference. (Attachment 2 – PDF, 40KB, 2 pages) Senior Grants Specialist Sonya Hosey is assigned to this project and is currently attending the first conference in Houston. Grants Specialist Ellison manages another Parents Anonymous project and was available to provide additional information about the grantee. Webb indicated that TCDD staff do not recommend approving continuation funding to Parents Anonymous for this project. Various concerns have lead to a significant investment of TCDD grant staff time to monitor project activities, ensure activities are completed by approved deadlines, and provide guidance concerning activities expected in the approved workplan including missed opportunities to leverage additional financial support for the current event. Staff feel that TCDD resources could be used more effectively in a different manner to continue providing support for the Gulf Coast conference. Ms. Hosey has been involved in a collaborative effort with various groups in the Houston that are the driving the force behind the first conference. The grantee, Parents Anonymous, is located in California and has not established a substantive presence in the Houston area as suggested by their initial application. Staff expect the conference to still be a success and believe the collaborating organizations are committed to continuing the conference in future years. Coleman-Beattie asked the Committee to first consider continued funding to Parents Anonymous for this project, and to then consider how to continue TCDD support for the Gulf Coast conference. She first addressed the continuation request from Parents Anonymous and again noted that the selection of this grantee was based in part on their commitment to have local staff involved in the conference planning.

MOTION: To not approve funding to Parents Anonymous for years 2 and 3 of the Gulf Coast African American Family Support Conference.

MADE BY: Brenda Coleman-Beattie

SECOND: John Morris

The motion passed unanimously.

Coleman-Beattie noted that she does not have a conflict of interest as a board member for Travis County Integral Care regarding her support of this action.

Webb indicated that TCDD staff will develop a proposal for consideration in November to continue DD funding support for the gulf coast conferences in a different manner. Coleman-Beattie asked that any proposal be in accordance with TCDD policies regarding soliciting proposals for grants. Others agreed that a solicitation is important so that TCDD avoids any appearance of sole-source funding. Committee members expressed support for the intent of the project providing that TCDD policies are followed with any efforts to continue the project.

8. Consideration of New Grants

Planning Coordinator Joanna Cordry discussed the intent of the Higher Education for Students with Developmental Disabilities project which is designed to provide “wrap-around” services to allow students with developmental disabilities the opportunity to complete a post-secondary educational program such as college or technical training that would lead to employment. TCDD did not receive any applications in response to the initial posting of the RFP in December of 2009. The RFP was reissued in March of 2011 at a slightly higher funding amount, but in May 2011, after receiving feedback from potential applicants that the expected outcomes were still ot feasible given the funding amount, the Council agreed to increase the funding amount to $225,000 per year for up to five years. Thirteen (13) applications were received and reviewed according to TCDD procedures. Twelve (12) applications were reviewed by the panel; the 13th application was not viewed as allowable since it did not meet criteria in the RFP for funding amounts allowed and for appropriate practice models.

The review panel considered three applications as fundable: the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) for a project in Hidalgo County, Texas A&M University, and Texas Tech University Burkhart Center for Autism Education. The panel agreed that three other applications are fundable if notable concerns are resolved: Palo Alto College, University of

Houston, and the University of North Texas. The other six applications were determined to not be fundable. Cordry reviewed with the Committee the findings from the review panel for the top six applications. Staff noted that the DARS project would be administratively located in the agency’s central office in Austin with program activities managed by the staff in Hidalgo County. The Committee discussed the merits and concerns of each proposal.

MOTION: To approved the requested funding amounts, not to exceed $225,000 per year for five years, to the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services in Hidalgo County, Texas A&M University, and Texas Tech University Burkhart Center for Autism Education for Higher Education for Students with Developmental Disabilities projects.

MADE BY: Rick Tisch

SECOND: Hunter Adkins

Committee member John Morris expressed concerns that the three applications categorized as “fundable with notable concerns” were being overlooked. Coleman-Beattie asked if they were put in this category due to the amount of time that might be required by staff. Cordry indicated that any staff concerns were not shared with the review panel, and that the recommendations on the summaries provided were from the review panel, independent of staff input. Morris expressed further concern that applicants were not allowed to respond to the concerns noted by the review panel. It was noted that the TCDD’s current process for reviewing applications is not a two-step process. As such, it does not allow applicants an opportunity to respond to concerns noted in the review process. Susan Vardell noted that the current process was intended to not give applicants a “second chance” and that all applicants are submitting applications with the same instructions.

The motion passed with John Morris opposed and Susan Vardell abstaining. (Attachments 3-5 – PDF, 90KB, 4 pages)

Committee members discussed possible revisions to the current process for reviewing grant applications and the information provided by review panels. Staff were asked to review the process with the Committee at the February 2012 meeting and to offer suggestions for possible revisions. Committee members agreed that applications would be reviewed according to the existing procedures until such time as the Committee approves any revisions. Cordry also agreed to ask upcoming review panels to rank proposals when appropriate.

9. Public Input Support Executive Summary

Webb reviewed a draft Executive Summary for a project to coordinate travel for individuals to travel to Austin to provide public input at Council or Committee meetings which was developed in response to Executive Committee discussions about ways to get input from advocates around the state. The project as drafted would provide funds for a grantee to coordinate and purchase travel arrangements, respite or attendant services as necessary to assist individuals to speak at Council or Committee meetings. Members discussed this possible project compared to meetings in various locations around the state to gather public input and agreed both ideas should be explored. Members agreed that both approaches have merit providing the purpose of soliciting public input is clearly defined.

MOTION: To recommend Council approval of the Executive Summary for Public Input Support and ask staff to develop cost estimates and options for regional meetings.

MADE BY: John Morris

SECOND: Susan Vardell

The Committee discussed the purpose of encouraging public input and questioned if it is cost-effective to bring people to Austin for a short, time-limited comment. Members also discussed the role of the Council to assist individuals to provide input regardless of their point of view. Members agreed to defer this discussion in order to gather additional input from the Public Policy and Project Development Committees about when public input would help inform Committee discussions, and the types of issues that might benefit from additional input. Coleman-Beattie asked both Committees to discuss this matter during November meetings.

The motion was withdrawn.

10. Consideration of New Grant Awards (continued)

Cordry reviewed independent review panel recommendations on applications received for Expansion of Existing Leadership Development and Advocacy Skill Training projects. This RFP was available only to existing DD Leadership Development and Advocacy Skills Training project grantees that are nearing the end of their funding period. The review panel reviewed five proposals and recommended two as “fundable” and three as “fundable if concerns are resolved”. TCDD grants staff provided additional information about how those concerns might be addressed.

MOTION: To award funding of up to $40,000 for the first year and up to $20,000 for the second year to the Brighton Center and to Region 19 Education Service Center for Expansion of Existing Leadership Development and Advocacy Skills Training projects.

MADE BY: John Morris

SECOND: Rick Tisch

Members discussed the intent of expanding current projects and felt that all should be considered if the concerns were addressed. The motion was withdrawn.

MOTION: To award funding of up to $40,000 for the first year and up to $20,000 for the second year for Expansion of Existing Leadership Development and Advocacy Skills Training projects to the Brighton Center and Region 19 Education Service Center; and to Imagine Enterprises, Paso del Norte Children’s Development Center, and SER-Jobs for Progress on the Gulf Coast if the concerns noted are addressed in an appropriate manner

MADE BY: Susan Vardell

SECOND: Brenda Coleman-Beattie

The motion passed without opposition. John Morris abstained due to a business relationship of his employer with Paso del Norte Children’s Development Center in El Paso. (Attachments 7-11 – PDF, 60KB, 5 pages)

11. Memorandum of Understanding with Texas Education Agency

Coleman-Beattie commented that the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) outlines the duties of TEA as the designated state agency for TCDD and allows TEA to receive up to $50,000 annually for those efforts. TCDD Operations Director Martha Cantu discussed proposed revisions to the MOU for FY 2012 recommended by TCDD’s internal auditor including a clarification of technology services provided to TCDD and indicating that TCDD will be included in TEA’s business continuity plan. TEA concurs with the revisions.

MOTION: To recommend Council approval of proposed revisions to the Memorandum of Understanding between the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities and the Texas Education Agency.

MADE BY: Brenda Coleman-Beattie

SECOND: Susan Vardell

The motion passed without opposition. (Attachment 12 – PDF, 50KB, 5 pages)

12. TCDD Quarterly Financial Report

Cantu reviewed the Quarterly Financial Report. The Committee found no concerns but asked that a footnote clarify that hotel meeting space for quarterly meetings is included in rental expenses, and clarify that audio-visual equipment for the quarterly meetings is included in rental of computer equipment to explain variances in those expenditure categories.

13. TCDD FY 2012 Operating Expense Budget

Webb reviewed the proposed operating expense budget for FY 2012 and indicated that this proposed budget assumes level federal funding for FY 2011. The proposed budget for FY 12 increases by $31,190 over the amount budgeted for FY 2011 due to anticipated increases for professional services and travel expenses. Webb noted that any unexpended funds at the end of the fiscal year are made available for grant projects. Cantu noted the proposed budget includes funds for 17 positions with the 18th position included in contingency funds.

Coleman-Beattie proposed that funds budgeted for out-of-state travel remain equal to travel funds budgeted for FY 2011. She also recommended that funds not be included in the budget at this time for the 18th position since we do not plan to fill that position in the near future. The Committee discussed the merits of keeping contingency funds for the FTE and discussed with staff how to manage that position recognizing that in the current fiscal climate it is less likely that TCDD will see any notable increase in federal funding in the near future. Cantu reminded members that the MOU with TEA retains the right for TCDD to request use of that position.

MOTION: To approve FY 2012 Operating Expense Budget without the $50,000 in contingency funds for one FTE and decreasing funds for out-of-state travel to FY 2011 levels. Those funds will be moved to funds available for grants.

MADE BY: John Morris

SECOND: Brenda Coleman-Beattie

The motion passed unanimously. (Attachment 13 – PDF, 25KB, 1 page)

14. Conflict of Interest Disclosures

Committee members reviewed Conflict of Interest disclosure statements from members and staff with no noted concerns.


Chair Coleman-Beattie adjourned the Council meeting at 7:32 PM.


Roger A. Webb Date
Secretary to the Council