Citing an urgent need to fill dozens of vacancies, Northside ISD directors voted Jan. 24 to approve small mid-year wage increases for food service workers, school bus drivers, assistants teachers and guardians.
Rene Barajas, NISD deputy superintendent of budget and finance, said he and his colleagues have studied hard-to-fill positions that directly affect students to consider salary adjustments.
Barajas also said district staff looked at the rate of employees leaving for higher-paying jobs and some lower pay rates than Northside’s competitors.
According to NISD data, as of January 24, vacancy rates among some jobs in the Child Nutrition Department ranged from 18% to 33%.
Vacancy rates for custodial jobs range from 17% to 33%, Barajas said, adding that the Department of Transportation bus driver has a vacancy rate of 23%.
Barajas also said there was a 15% vacancy rate among teaching assistants.
Barajas said the current NISD substitute teacher rate, until recently, was higher than the district’s entry-level teaching assistant.
Based on recommendations from district staff, the school board approved the following hourly wage increases from the previous minimum rate to the new maximum rate:
- Child nutrition workers: $12.24 to $14.25
- Assistant Child Nutrition Manager and Trainee Manager: $14.39 to $15.50
- Guardian: $12.24 to $14.25
- Assistant Chief Concierge: $13.71 to $14.75
- Bus driver: $15.76 to $17
The board also approved increased daily rates of pay for four categories of teaching assistants. Previous minimum daily rates among the four groups of teacher assistants ranged from $90.71 to $114.16. The new minimum daily rates between the same groups now range from $102 to $130.
Barajas said that in determining pay adjustments, district staff must carefully prevent compression within pay grades or between pay grades of certain positions within each of the departments affected by the new pay increases. District officials said the approved raises will take effect in the next pay period.
All board members said they agreed with the need to adjust salaries to encourage more people to consider employment at Northside ISD, which, like many other school systems, is struggling with many vacancies since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But administrators Gerald Lopez and Carol Harle suggested the district take a little more time and analyze pay adjustments for additional groups of employees.
However, board members such as Robert Blount and Corinne Saldaña said small wage increases were needed immediately, even though this package of wage adjustments affects certain groups of workers.
“I feel like people with boots on the ground need help right now,” Saldaña said.