Superintendent ties pay issue to additional check
Lee Schools Superintendent James Browder provided teachers and staff with answers Tuesday to the recent district payroll problems.
The $32 million renovation of the district’s 38-year-old Legacy software system was recently finished and turned on this summer.
District payroll and other operations were integrated using PeopleSoft systems. Some employees were first entered in July and more have been progressively added since.
Some teachers and support personnel have noticed money missing from their paychecks. Teachers had an average of $6-$8 withheld from their checks, some as high as $20, while support personnel had $256 of their benefits package left out.
Although secondary checks were issued to support personnel, teachers will not see the additional money until the end of the school year because of a fundamental difference in the payroll system.
Browder stressed that PeopleSoft is going to operate differently than the old system.
“When we started the project we told everybody out there that there will be changes in the way we deliver pay,” he said.
For a long time the district issued 24 payments to employees, said Browder, but the new system has extended the schedule to 25. As a result, staff will get less now but will receive an additional paycheck in June.
Board Member Robert Chilmonik said he was concerned about whether the district informed its employees about the changes beforehand and that PeopleSoft was working correctly.
He said many teachers contacted him with their concerns, adding that they did not know about the withholding of funds until their checks arrived.
Browder contended that the district gave notice to all employees.
“As I’ve said before, we have piles of information that has gone out to the bargaining units and employees explaining that changes were coming to include any items in their paycheck,” he said.
Chilmonik explained that he does not want to create hardships for staff, especially in a county with an unemployment rate higher than 13 percent.
“I am concerned with the amount of money being withheld,” he said. “It could be the difference between making a payment or not making a payment.”
Browder said that employees who are having an issue with their paycheck should e-mail him or contact the district’s customer care line.
Currently, there are approximately 10,000 employees in the Lee County School District.