Westwood, Bales to separate

In News by Reporter News

The Friendswood Board of Trustees on Monday agreed to move forward with plans to operate Bales and Westwood as two separate campuses.

The two adjacent campuses were combined in 2011 as a cost-cutting measure after severe budget cuts by the Texas Legislature, with 6th grade moving to the junior high.

Over the last four years, one principal supervised both campuses and their approximately 1,000 students. Westwood-Bales, as it is known, operated on the same class and bell schedule. Rated as an exemplary school by the state, the combined campus serves pre-K through fifth-graders.

But the district will now separate the schools by adding a full-time principal for each campus. To even out the enrollment at both schools, the district is planning to move the third grade to Bales.

In other district business, the board agreed to add another period of French classes at Friendswood Junior High next year due to the number of students enrolling in the course. Also added next year is a half-time special education paraprofessional at Cline Elementary in order to handle the upcoming caseload.

As part of its consent agenda, the board approved the purchase of 150 Chromebooks for fourth and fifth-graders at Westwood-Bales for $37,500, and 26 teacher computers at the campus for $37,336. The new MacBook Pros will give teachers continued access to online curriculum, gradebook programs, email and numerous other functions. Westwood-Bales plans to repurpose older equipment for student use in reading classes.

The district presented its “Making A Difference” Award to maintenance and operations employee Blake Warren and Technology Department programmer Demosesneeds Punchard.

Warren is a two-year employee of FISD who ensures print shop orders and supplies are delivered to campuses daily, while addressing moving and event needs districtwide. He was commended for his attitude and taking care of last-minute needs “promptly, accurately and with a smile.”

Known as “Punch,” Punchard is a two-year employee of the district whose work has a large impact as the technology department’s first in-house programmer. Thanks to his efforts, his nomination reports, processing new students and staff now takes minutes instead of days. He also played a key role in the district’s adoption of Google for Education and the rollout of more than 2,500 Chromebooks last summer.

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