No feedback was left on the draft calendar that FISD posted online for commentary, district leaders said. The adopted calendar shows students starting school Aug. 17—a Tuesday, as opposed to the usual Wednesday—and ending May 26.
Teachers have a week of professional development Aug. 9-16 and professional development days Sept. 20, Nov. 1, Jan. 3, Feb. 21, Apr. 18 and May 27. School will not be in session the week of Thanksgiving, Nov. 22-26, or for the last two full weeks of December for the holidays. Spring break is scheduled for March 14-18.
Other holidays include Labor Day, Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day—a professional development day for teachers—and Good Friday. The calendar also includes as makeup days May 27, 31 and June 1 to be used as necessary if inclement weather or other circumstances arise during the school year. The full calendar is available for viewing.
Trustees also moved to approve a raise for bus drivers and monitors, discussed the latest updates on FISD’s bond project and shared good news about the district nursing staff.
Increased pay for bus drivers, monitors
FISD’s bus drivers and bus monitors will make an additional $2 an hour starting Feb. 15 for the remainder of fiscal year 2020-21 and all of FY 2021-22.
Bus drivers previously started at a minimum hourly rate of $17, and monitors started at $11.50 an hour. Due to a lack of incoming applicants and the difficulty of retaining qualified employees based on hourly rates at surrounding districts, trustees moved to approve the raise and put FISD in line with surrounding districts' rates for these positions.
“We think that it would make a huge impact for the morale of the department,” Executive Director of Human Resources Lindsey Foley said during the meeting.
Funding for the increase for the remainder of FY 2020-21 will come from two additional driver vacancies that were added to the FY 2020-21 budget and have not been filled, per board documents. The total estimated annual cost of the increase is just under $81,000, including benefits, and the impact to the FY 2021-22 budget will be a net estimated increase of $8,150.
Director of Transportation Dean Lewis said in a district news release that the COVID-19 pandemic raised sanitation requirements and created new responsibilities for staff; it also caused several bus drivers and monitors to retire before the start of school.
“The pay raise is like a shot in the arm for our bus drivers and monitors,” he said in the release. “Our employees have stepped up to the challenge the entire school year to help cover bus routes on days when we are short with drivers. We have been short on drivers most of this school year. The pay increase is well deserved.”
Other business: bond, safety updates
Trustees, other district leaders and partnering architects are continuing the process of executing school improvements via bond funds. Those in attendance at the Feb. 8 meeting discussed their preliminary thoughts around Friendswood High School’s renovations based on tours of other secondary campuses.
FHS renovations will address career and technical education, fine arts and athletics needs. Superintendent Thad Roher said the renovations plan will need to be devised with a very clear sense of what CTE looks like now and might look like in the future so the district can direct resources appropriately and ensure the renovations are effective.
Voters approved FISD’s bond in November, and as a result, the district will receive more than $128 million in funds for approved projects. When the bond election was proposed, interest rates were much higher, district leaders said: Voters approved a tax rate increase of up to $0.10 based on 3.5% interest cost on the total, $128,275,000.
Due to the drastic reduction in interest rates, FISD was able to secure a much lower interest rate, 1.823%, for the total debt. Because of this, the district has $47 million in savings coming from the difference in the projected and actual interest rate over the 30-year term of the debt.
Another update celebrated by trustees and district leaders: As of Feb. 8, all FISD nurses are fully immunized against COVID-19, officials said at the meeting. Nurses received their second vaccine dose that day.