The Board of Regents will consider the transfer of the Braille School Campus, at next week's meeting in Cedar Falls. The transfer is considering the total amount of 48 acres of land and buildings to the city of Vinton. If approved, the land would transfer for the sum of $1.

The Board meetings are live video streamed, and the link will be activated and located on the front page of when the meeting begins.

The discussion will take place during the Property and Facilities Committee which convenes at 11 am on Wednesday, November 13, and it will be the last item brought forward.

“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 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.”

Mayor Bud Maynard explained the project best. "On the Board of Regents agenda for their next meeting is a discussion on the IBSSS sale. This is only a part of the process to allow the state to dispose of the property. Vinton’s work is far from over. The committee has done a fantastic job in positioning the city to be able to make an informed decision on the campus purchase. There are still a lot of questions that need to be answered but we have the right people working on obtaining those answers. With continued hard work and doing our due diligence we hope to have a once in city’s lifetime success story."

The IBSSS Committee issued the following statement: "At this time, the City of Vinton has not committed to purchasing any portion of the IBSSS campus. The IBSSS Committee continues to work on the pieces that could make this large puzzle work. Ultimately, the decision to purchase the IBSSS campus will be decided by the Vinton City Council in the months ahead."

The item on the Iowa Board of Regents agenda reads as follows:


Action Requested:

Authorize the Executive Director to take all actions necessary, including the
execution of an agreement for the sale of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School (IBSSS)
campus to the City of Vinton for $1. Property includes 48 acres and 11 buildings. A waiver of
Board Policy 2.3.2.C.ii that real estate be conveyed based upon appraisal is requested.

Iowa Code §262.9(8) authorizes the Regents to acquire real estate for the proper uses of
the institutions and dispose of real estate, when not necessary for their purposes.


Executive Summary:

Established in 1852, the “Iowa College for the Blind” started in Keokuk for
four blind students 167 years ago, and then moved to Vinton in 1862. After 157 years in Vinton,
the Board Office is requesting Board approval to sell IBSSS to the City of Vinton for $1. Sale of
the property is contingent upon successful assignment of the AmeriCorps lease to the City of
Vinton, and the Federal Government’s acceptance and acknowledgment of the assignment.

While IBSSS’s highest reported attendance was 208 students in 1896, its attendance declined
87% from 119 students in 1972 to 16 students in 2008. To offset the associated decline in
revenue, the Board of Regents successfully started leasing 60% of the IBSSS campus in 2008 to
the Federal Government as a regional site for AmeriCorps. After 11 continuous years of leasing,
AmeriCorps renewed their lease in 2019 for 10 more years.

In 2016, the Board Office began working with representatives of the City of Vinton on a proposal
to sell the IBSSS campus to the City of Vinton for $1. Since then, the Board Office, the City of
Vinton and IBSSS have worked collaboratively toward a successful property sale. Also during
this time, the Board Office reached out to other government agencies. For example in October
2016, the Iowa Department of Administrative Services (DAS) and Iowa Law Enforcement
Academy (ILEA) toured IBSSS’s facilities, but found that it did not meet the future needs of either


• 1852: IBSSS established as the “Iowa College for the Blind” in Keokuk for four blind students.

• 1858: IBSSS moved to Vinton.

• 1862: Old Main was opened, 24 blind students enrolled.

• 2008: AmeriCorps lease #1 was established for five years.

• 2011: IBSSS students started attending Iowa’s public schools.

• 2011: Straight-line winds tore off Old Main’s roof, caused over $6 million in campus damage

• 2013: AmeriCorp lease #2 for five more years

• 2016: Board approved a 10-year lease extension of the Kiwanis Park to the City of Vinton.

• 2018: AmeriCorp lease #3 for one more year in preparation of the property sale

• 2019: AmeriCorp lease #4 for 10 more years (June 10, 2019 to June 9, 2029)

• 2019: Board Office requested Board approval to sell the IBSSS to the City of Vinton.

# IBSSS buildings gross
square feet

1. Old Main 69,280

2. Palmer Hall 27,486

3. Rice Hall 35,910

4. Cottage 12,120

5. Recreation Building 24,848

6. Service Building 9,750

7. North Parking Lot Building 2,400

8. Old Hospital 3,200

9. Garage 2,080

10. Barn 2,376

11. Superintendent’s House & Garage 4,224

Total 193,674

Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School Campus, Vinton,
48 acres and 11 buildings

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