Citing an urgent need to fill dozens of job vacancies, Northside ISD trustees voted Jan. 24 to approve slight mid-year pay increases for food service workers, school bus drivers, instructional assistants and custodians.

Rene Barajas, NISD’s assistant superintendent of budget and finance, said he and his colleagues studied hard-to-fill positions that directly affect students in order to consider salary adjustments.

Barajas also said district staff reviewed the rate of employees leaving for better paying jobs and certain pay rates that were lower than Northside’s competitors.

According to NISD data, as of Jan. 24, vacancy rates among certain child nutrition department jobs range 18% to 33%.

Custodial job vacancy rates range 17% to 33%, Barajas said, adding that the transportation department’s bus driver has a 23% vacancy rate.

Barajas also said there is a 15% vacancy rate among instructional assistants.

Barajas said NISD’s current substitute teacher rate, until recently, had been higher than the district’s entry level instructional assistant’s position.

Based on district staff’s recommendations, the school board approved the following hourly wage hikes, from previous minimum to new maximum rate:

  • Child nutrition workers: $12.24 to $14.25
  • Child nutrition assistant manager and manager trainee: $14.39 to $15.50
  • Custodian: $12.24 to $14.25
  • Assistant head custodian: $13.71 to $14.75
  • Bus driver: $15.76 to $17

The board also approved raising the daily pay rates of four classifications of instructional assistants. The previous minimum daily rates among the four groups of instructional assistants ranged $90.71 to $114.16. The new minimum daily rates among the same groups now range $102 to $130.

Barajas said in determining the pay adjustments, district staff had to carefully prevent compression within pay grades or between pay grades of certain job positions within each of the departments affected by the new wage increases. District officials said the approved raises would take effect in the next pay period.

All board members said they agreed with a need to adjust pay to encourage more people to consider employment at Northside ISD, which like many other school systems has been struggling with numerous job vacancies since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged.

But Trustees Gerald Lopez and Carol Harle suggested the district take a little longer and analyze pay adjustments for additional employee groups.

Board members such as Robert Blount and Corinne Saldaña, however, said the slight pay increases were needed immediately even if this set of wage adjustments affect certain groups of workers.

"I feel like people with boots on the ground need help right now,” Saldaña said.