Friendswood ISD is planning to hire two additional special education teachers for the 2021-22 school year after the district’s board of trustees approved the staffing request at a May 24 workshop.

A second Quest special education teacher will be hired for Westwood Elementary School based on the number of qualifying students at that campus, district leaders said at the workshop. Typically, each school has one Quest teacher.

The increasing interest in FISD’s special education programming is a positive reflection on the district’s special education teacher community, trustee Rebecca Hillenberg said May 24. The district is becoming known for its excellence in this area, and enrollment in special education is trending upward, trustees and Superintendent Thad Roher said.

“That number continues to grow,” Roher said of special education enrollment and keeping up with community needs. “I don’t want to get too far behind the hiring curve.”

The hiring of a secondary behavioral support teacher was also approved at the May 24 workshop. The addition of this position and the Quest teacher position will have a financial impact of about $63,000 each, according to staff request documents presented at the meeting.

The board has approved approximately $1 million in teaching positions over the last three years for special education students, Roher said. This includes teachers, paraprofessionals, assessment staff, behavioral specialists, speech pathologists and professionals in all areas serving special education and dyslexic students.

Other business: Bales computers, bond funds

The board also approved a contract worth approximately $270,000 to replace 650 Chromebooks at Bales Intermediate School, per board meeting documents. FISD replaces student devices through a multiphase plan, replacing about a quarter of district core classroom devices each year, and the rotation of devices is on a five-year schedule, per the documents.

Since voters approved a $128 million bond package in November, district leaders have begun the process of executing renovations across several campuses. The latest step in that process was approved May 24, when trustees signed off on the use of about $142,000 from the $1 million in bond funds allocated to safety and security measures.

The funds will be used to construct a security vestibule for Friendswood Junior High School, which is the only of the six campuses without such a structure. The project is small in scope but large in impact, Executive Director of Safety and Operations Erich Kreiter said May 24, as it will create a safer environment for students and staff at that campus.

In addition to the redesign of the front entry to create a secure vestibule, both lower-level hallway openings leading into the cafeteria from the instructional area will be updated, per board meeting documents. The door openings will be widened by removing the doors and adding an operable gate that will be keyed from both sides for access. The gates will be tied into the fire panel to default to the open position in the event of a fire alarm.