Some HISD workers say pennies for a pay raise is unacceptable

After a year of a number of staffing challenges, even more could be coming for the Houston Independent School District. Some HISD employees say they want a fair pay raise, or they may be forced to try to find work in another district. 

Some drivers and other workers say under the proposed budget, they're expected to receive a raise of 36-cents per hour, and they say that’s unacceptable. 

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"It’s really a slap in the face." Autry Haygood, who’s been and HISD bus driver for five years, says.  

The HISD employees we spoke with are in the Houston Educational Support Personnel Union (HESP) and include bus drivers, food service workers, and crossing guards. They make $14 an hour and want a $1 raise, not the proposed 36-cents.

"Pennies aren’t going to get it this time. Pennies are not going to get it this time. HISD, you need to raise up these employees to a fair pay," HESP President Wretha Thomas says.

"There’s a bus driver here, he was my driver back in middle school and him and I make the same amount of money, and he’s been here over 30 years." Haygood adds. 

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"It’s not unfair. It’s just totally ridiculous." HISD Food Service Attendant Sibyl D. Hunter says. Hunter has been with the district 17 years. "We’re already struggling. We’re not able to get unemployment the three months that we’re out and food stamps? They want to give you $18. What can I do with $18, and I know I’m below the poverty level. Every time there’s a money issue with the budget, we’re the ones that are left out. It takes each department to make that school district work, not just one group of people. We’re all important," Hunter adds. 

"HISD is the biggest district in Texas, but we don’t get paid fairly. We’re just doing bad," HISD Crossing Guard Gerald Thomas says.

Although these are part-time positions many of the employees say they’re grateful to work full time hours. "I work 40 hours a week." Haygood explains, but he says that doesn’t give him time to work a second job. These workers say they need a one dollar pay increase to try to stay afloat as daily living expenses skyrocket. 

"We have to eat. We have to pay our bills. We have to drive to work. So we need that extra money. It’s not like we’re asking (for something) over the top. We’re asking just to be treated fairly," says 19-year HISD School Bus Attendant Cynthia Bessard.

"This paltry wage that they receive right now is not enough to sustain and support themselves. They need a livable wage. These are the people that often times get overlooked when it comes to equity in pay. So I’m here as an elected official asking the administration, asking the trustees, asking the superintendent to do the right thing," Texas State Representative Ron Reynolds adds.


Meantime, Bessard says it gets frustrating to rarely have a choice to do something you want to do, because you barely have the money to pay for the things you have to take care of. 

"So we have to take the "haves" and leave the things that you "want" behind because you have to pick and choose what you’re going to do for the month."

FOX 26 has reached out to Houston ISD for a statement and are awaiting their response.