The Austin Independent School District Board approved several construction projects last night. That's despite the fact that the workers hired for those projects will be paid based on 2005 standards.
The issue came up at the school board's meeting last month - when trustees talked about adopting a new pay rate study. But so far, that hasn't happened.
Minerva Camarena-Skeith is a member of the non-partisan group Austin Interfaith. She says the old pay rate scale is hurting local families.
"Last month we were glad to hear from this board that we should not be approving construction projects with a price tag with the 2005 labor standards - and that was about $2 million. Yet here we are again today with the consent agenda asking for eight contracts that are over $3 million under those old wage standards."
Trustees said last month they decided to move forward with projects in order to make sure they were complete by the start of next school year.
Projects on the consent agenda last night included moving and renovating portable classrooms and modifying kitchen plumbing systems across the district.
‘Constant change is not a friend for Title One families,’ Robertson says. ‘Nor is it for students to jump from school to school. That upheaval — some of our most successful families will be thrown into I don’t know what kind of abyss.’
Members of the Travis Heights community are also concerned the school will lose its diverse student population. Minerva Skeith is a Travis Heights parent and member of the local community group, Austin Interfaith.”
Presentation and Exchange at City Hall, City of AustinMay 13, 2013
Austin Interfaith & Worker's Defense Project Calls on City to Enforce Own Rules on Economic Incentives & Construction Wages
‘Developers need to keep their promises to taxpayers and workers, and the city must enforce its own rules,’ said Kurt Cadena-Mitchell, a leader of Austin Interfaith, a multi-congregation group pushing the city to establish a standard above minimum wage on construction projects that are granted economic development deals by the city.” [Photo: Alberto Martinez, Austin American Statesman]
Labor Advocates Ask Court to Step into Marriott Dispute, Austin American Statesman
Sheets’ decision to focus on other legislation pleased Austin Interfaith, a coalition of congregations and social justice groups that has been pushing for the living-wage requirement. At the organization’s request, members of its Dallas-area counterpart and representatives of the Dallas affiliate of the Workers Defense Project met with Sheets, asking him to drop his legislation and citing, among other reasons, a desire for local control in such matters, said Kurt Cadena-Mitchell, an Austin Interfaith leader.
"I think we have a very balanced approach that is good for the city, the taxpayers, companies and contractors,” said Bob Batlan, a member of Temple Beth Shalom and Austin Interfaith involved in the living-wage discussions. “I’m pleased that (Sheets) recognizes the balanced approach.”
Legislator Backs Off Bill to Ban Living Wage Requirement, Austin American Statesman
In the face of opposition from prominent Texas Republicans and Gov. Rick Perry, an increasing number of local government officials are urging legislators to expand Medicaid and obtain a federal funding windfall....Last week, the Travis County Commissioners Court tweaked a Feb. 19 resolution calling for a Medicaid expansion to satisfy its lone Republican member. That bipartisan support was “absolutely critical,” said Oralia Garza Cortes, a leader with Austin Interfaith, an advocacy group. Sister organizations in Dallas and Bexar counties helped pass similar resolutions.
On Tuesday, a group of Medicaid recipients and uninsured Texans is planning to rally at the Capitol in support of expanding the program."
Local Officials Lobby GOP Leaders to Rethink Medicaid Expansion, Austin American Statesman
The court spent time Tuesday tweaking the resolution that it passed last week to satisfy its lone Republican member, Gerald Daugherty. It was approved unanimously, 5-0. Austin Interfaith leader Oralia Garza Cortes called the bipartisan support “absolutely critical” and said that sister organizations of the advocacy group in Dallas and Bexar counties helped pass similar resolutions this month."
Medicaid Expansion Would Bring More Than $200 Million to Travis County, Commissioners Say, Austin American Statesman
“Austin Interfaith, and the Network of Texas Organizations, convened 200 leaders from various faith traditions on the steps of the Capitol to call on Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas Legislature to expand Medicaid.
Religious leaders and clergy from throughout the state gathered at the north entrance the Capitol on Wednesday at noon to rally in support of Medicaid expansion…”
[Photo Credit: Tamir Kalifa, Texas Tribune]
Interfaith Groups Rally for Medicaid Expansion, Texas Tribune
Death, Taxes, God and Medicaid, San Antonio Express-News
County Judges, Clergy Rally in Favor of Expanding Medicaid, Dallas Morning News
Rally at Capitol Urges Texas to Spend More on Medicaid, Star Telegram
Interfaith Groups Rally for Medicaid Expansion, The Monitor
El Paso Group Joins Others to Urge Expansion of Medicaid, El Paso Times
“At the urging of Austin Interfaith, the Travis County Commissioners Court this week passed a resolution supporting expansion. Dallas County has approved a similar resolution, and Bexar County is expected to do the same next week….
County and legislative leaders joined members of religious organizations, including Austin Interfaith, in a rally outside the Capitol Wednesday afternoon to urge Texas lawmakers to expand the number of low-income people covered by Medicaid.”
Religious Leaders, Politicians, Rally for Medicaid Expansion, Austin American Statesman
After Austin Interfaith leaders took issue with a proposal that “would have allowed registered lobbyists to serve on the citizen committee that will guide the rewriting of the city’s land-development code…” the proposal was pulled.
Austin Interfaith leaders asserted that allowing lobbyists on the committee amounted to “blurring the lines between the duties and responsibilities of citizens in the democratic process and the role of … lobbyists who represent organized financial interests in the legislative process….”
Following Criticism, Austin to Keep Lobbyists Off Committee to Rewrite Land Use Rules, Austin American Statesman
“School board members have lauded the process that Travis Heights used to garner support for the transformation, which they approved last month. Unlike the district’s failed partnership with [another charter school]… the move to turn Travis Heights into a charter school had the enthusiastic backing of the school’s parents and teachers, joined byAustin Interfaith and Education Austin.
‘It’s a real democratic process that empowers the parents, empowers the teachers, empowers the students,’ said Britt Adams, a special education teacher at the school.”
[Photo Credit: Laura Skelding, Austin American Statesman]
Travis Heights Will Be Austin District’s First Home-Grown Charter School, Austin American Statesman
New Charter Gets School Board Blessing, KXAN (12/18)
Austin School Trustees Vote to End IDEA Charter Partnership, Austin American Statesman (12/18)