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Board Examines Workshop Challenges, Possible Solutions

MASWM’s Board of Directors addressed ever-growing challenges faced by Missouri workshops during a board video conference July 7.

Opened by President Rob Libera, the meeting is part of the bimonthly discussions held by the board in order to deal with everything from face masks to state budgeting.

Some Good News

MASWM Legislative Consultant Lynne Schlosser noted a positive report involved the increase in overall state revenue that should help with future DESE payments to workshops, which were withheld in June. She also said that in many discussions with legislators, more are realizing that DESE’s workshop payments are after the fact, unlike other state funding. In other words, the money withheld in June was for work already done by employees with disabilities, not work planned for the future and which could be eliminated or reduced. Schlosser also noted the biggest concerns may be for next year, when lost revenue from this year’s tax receipts exert a major impact on the state budget.

Advocating for Workshops

Considerable discussion involved workshop strategies and challenges dealing with COVID-19 and related operations. Although few workshop employees have experienced the illness directly, the operational changes, necessary personal protection equipment and other critical steps are dramatic. In workshops that have had an employee test positive, the shops have worked with county and state officials on a “box it” strategy to test and isolate anyone who may have been exposed to the virus.

Mike Stroud provided an update on MASWM’s Advocacy Committee, which is working with national organizations in order to discuss several topics, including an upcoming report by the United States Commission on Civil Rights. The commission last year issued preliminary opinions that concern workshop supporters nationwide.

Bylaws

Stroud and Libera presented information on the bylaws committee, which has been considering a wide range of changes to MASWM’s operational rules. One involves changes to the MASWM Board of Directors and Area Directors composition and election, with several proposals being considered to improve representation and flexibility.

“We ended up with two or three alternatives, not only as to how the board is made up but how they are voted in and by who, so we can look at different options,” Stroud said. He plans to outline these options and present them at the next board meeting.

“It’s been a really good process,” Stroud added. “We’re not just putting down a proposal and saying, ‘Here, vote on this.’ We’re getting input from a wide range of sources.”

Other topics included the finalization of MASWM dues at a net $10 assessment planned for invoicing this week, and last week’s WIOA training zoom meeting that resulted in guidance being distributed to help managers. Additional training opportunities are being considered before the July 22 deadline and will be announced as soon as they are available.

As always, if you would like further information  please don’t hesitate to contact your Area Director.

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MASWM The Missouri Association of Sheltered Workshop Managers
If you have questions, please contact:
President Rob Libera – (636) 227-5666 or rlibera@lafayetteindustries.com
or Legislative Chair Kit Brewer – (314) 647-3300 or cbrewer@cuinc.org