The Houston school board trustees made a historic move last month when they passed the nearly $2 billion budget for next year.
That budget increased the minimum wage to $10 an hour at the Houston Independent School District.
An extra $2.20 an hour may not sound like much.
But that adds up to thousands of dollars for the lowest-paid employees who were earning as little as $7.80 an hour.
“When you have an extra $3,500 dollars in your budget every year, you’re going to be able to provide for your family,” said Orell Fitzsimmons, field director for the United Labor Unions Local 100. He has pushed for this raise for years.
It will affect about 1,400 workers who clean classrooms and tutor kids. Most of the employees are women.
“In a lot of cases, these are single mothers, head of households, and they’re just going to be able to lift themselves up a little further out of poverty,” Fitzsimmons said.
HISD Board President Rhonda Skillern-Jones set the higher minimum wage as a priority.
“And the fact that a lot of those people are also parents of our students,” she said.
“I just don’t think in today’s economy in a place where Houston is so vibrant and our economy is so good and has sustained that level of success over a number of years that we should be paying anyone less than that,” she added.
In total, the new wage will cost HISD about $4 million.