Friendswood ISD’s board of trustees approved a 1% salary increase for nearly all employees, as well as the approval of a new security system using bond funds, during its June 14 regular meeting.

All district employees except transportation drivers, monitors, and driver supervisors will receive the increase for the 2021-22 school year. The salary plan for transportation staff—raising their hourly pay an additional $2, starting Feb. 15 and extending through the end of 2021-22—was approved at the board’s Feb. 8 regular meeting.

The increase bumps the district’s base pay for teachers up approximately $550, FISD’s Chief Financial Officer Amber Petree said. The budget for the 2020-21 school year had included a 1% conditional, one-time salary supplement, awarded on the employee’s final paycheck of the school year, per board documents.

During the 2021-22 school year, the funds that would have been used to give one-time payments will instead be factored into the employee’s overall salary. The money to provide the increase was already included in the working 2021-22 budget, but employees are receiving the amount of the one-time payment over the course of the year versus in a lump sum, Petree said.

“This now pulls it into their base salary,” she said.

Drafts of budget worksheets presented at the meeting indicate the district’s 2021-22 budget will have a projected deficit of nearly $2.2 million. Total revenues are set to significantly decrease, which is where the deficit comes from, Board President Tony Hopkins pointed out.

“Two million is a big number going into a year with so many unknowns in terms of enrollment,” Superintendent Thad Roher said June 14.

Trustees also approved the purchase of a Centegix CrisisAlert safety system, using approximately $316,000 of the $1 million designated in bond funds for security and safety upgrades. Another $142,000 of the $1 million was approved for use on a security vestibule at the high school at the end of May, leaving the district with a little less than half of the funds left to spend.

The crisis communication technology the system provides will give staff the ability to call a lockdown and request immediate assistance in the event of an emergency, as well as notifying local law enforcement of the location of the incident and extending alerts to building exteriors, per board documents. The CrisisAlert system also provides visuals, audio over a public address system, transmits over handheld radios and notifies devices on the district’s network.

District leaders believe the system’s wide reach, particularly the fact that it allows anyone on campus to call a lockdown, is essential in providing a safe learning environment for all students, according to Erich Kreiter, executive director of safety and operations.

“It’s totally going to bring safety to a new level and set us apart from other districts,” he said, adding the system is used in some San Antonio schools as well as in southern Florida’s Miami-Dade area. “There’s very few districts that have it right now.”