SAISD support staff wants $13/hour living wage

No figure given by board but agrees to continued talks

SAN ANTONIO – Many who packed Tuesday night’s trustee meeting in the San Antonio Independent School District were support personnel who are asking for a living wage of $13 an hour.

The school board did not commit to the figure Tuesday night, but did agree to continued talks between trustees and the San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel.

Shelley Potter with the organization said they were not asking for the board to vote on a particular plan.

“We’re asking them to just commit publically that they support this campaign and then work with us to figure out how to make it happen within the budget the district has,”
Potter said.

Vanita Rodriguez, an elementary school cafeteria manager who addressed the board, said she was encouraged.

“I think it looked to me on the positive side, so I’m hoping it will come true,” Rodriguez said.

Potter said the alliance is aligned with COPS and Metro Alliance that successfully pushed for a $13 living wage for city and county employees.

She said they’d already had spoken to the district’s seven trustees and the superintendent.

“I would say the board members all agree the wages are too low and understand that there is a need to address the situation,” Potter said.

She said many support personnel such as bus drivers, clerical staff, instructional assistants and others, can’t afford to provide for their families with what they earn now.

Their current minimum salaries range from $10-$11.40 per hour. Potter said they are paid for only 183 working days.

SAISD is the third largest district in terms of school enrollment behind Northeast ISD and Northside ISD that also have similar starting salaries.

During a news conference prior to the board’s meeting, alliance leaders said that as San Antonio’s oldest school district, it is only fitting that it be the first to have a living wage.

Leslie Price, SAISD spokeswoman, said the district has a long term plan to raise those wages up to $15 an hour, a goal also shared by the alliance.

But Price said the district will take a phased approach that will be examined further during the budget process this spring.

“At the same time, we have to look at over what period of time and make sure that we’re adequately investing also in the academic support of our students,” she said.

About the Author:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.