KILLEEN, TX — Some Killeen school bus drivers are advocating for higher pay. Johnnie Williams, a driver for the past seven years, says the district is not paying a livable wage for the region.
"We can’t take care of our families," said Williams.
Williams is a member of the Killeen Educators Association, who is advocating for the increase.
He says drivers should make at least $3 more to meet fair compensation.
"You have to decide one day that do we have to be faithful to this job or do I be faithful to my family," said Eddie Smith, a bus driver, and representative of the Killeen Educators Association.
The district responded to the claim:
“I can tell you that our bus drivers are the highest paid drivers in the region. Bus drivers received a pay raise for this school year. The average bus driver for us, when achieving the attendance and performance incentives set up for them, earns about $17 an hour, a highly competitive wage. We are the largest school district in the area and we currently have nearly 200 bus drivers on staff. That’s because drivers know this is a great place to work and a wonderful opportunity to work with children,” said Terry Abbott, spokesperson for Killeen ISD.
"The district likes to use the argument that their wages are competitive, and I find that a bit misleading. When you have a school district that has a tax base that is two to three times the size of any neighboring school district in Bell County. They are certainly able to pay more and they need to pay more," said Rick Beaule, President of Killeen Educators Association.
This comes as the district is actively searching for applicants to drive for the school system.
"They need to have a living wage. Our drivers need to be able to raise their families, and take care of their families, and feed their families. And the only way you can do that is if you have enough money to pay the bills," said Beaule.