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Employees frustrated with prolonged payment delays, Gaston County Schools working to correct issues

Employees say their checks haven’t had the correct amounts since January
The school district says the issue started in late January as they transitioned to a new payroll system - and it came with some hiccups.
Published: Feb. 25, 2022 at 7:33 PM EST
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GASTON COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Imagine waking up on payday and missing hundreds of dollars from your check or not getting paid at all, that’s a reality several Gaston County Schools employees say they’re experiencing.

One Gaston County teacher who wished to remain anonymous described the recent pay cycles as chaotic.

“People have bills that come out, your mortgage is drafted and there’s no money in there and it’s really scary and it just makes you feel worthless because they gave you nothing,” she said.

The district transitioned from its old payroll system to a new system, Oracle, at the end of January.

Several employees contacted WBTV in late January saying they were missing hundreds of dollars from their regular paychecks, missing supplements, or “plug-in” pay from covering other classes.

On January 27, a district spokesperson said there was an issue with the overnight file upload and they were working to correct it the next morning on January 28.

The spokesperson said employees with one financial institution were experiencing delays on January 27, but they should’ve received their money by the 28.

The GCS teacher says several employees with different banks including credit unions and Wells Fargos did not have their money on time in January.

In addition, the district said bonuses were paid on Monday, January 31. “A file ran Wednesday night for any employees who were inadvertently excluded from the bonus paid on January 31. We are addressing the issue with some employees having deductions occur twice,” officials said.

In a statement to employees on Friday, the Superintendent acknowledged the recent issues.

“The payroll portion of the new Oracle business management system has created ongoing challenges for us, and we recognize that some employees have been adversely affected. I want to personally apologize for the problems, confusion, and stress that the conversion has caused,” Superintendent Booker said.

The GCS teacher says she and other school employees were informed about the transition to the new system but say they didn’t expect it to affect their paychecks to this extent.

“When you wake up on payday and there’s nothing - there’s like two dollars in your bank account because you’re a public school teacher that is scary,” she said.

On February 4, the district said they had written checks for 180 employees who had not received the entirety of their paychecks.

GCS says they initially received inquiries from 1,000 people who had concerns about checks but by February 25, the number dwindled down to 200.

“For the bi-weekly and monthly payroll that ran this week, we processed more than 4,300 paychecks. In this week’s payroll, employees are scheduled to receive retroactive pay for any unpaid time, excess deductions, or unpaid longevity, if applicable. Also, stipends, supplements, and miscellaneous bonuses, if applicable, are scheduled to be paid this week,” The district stated.

The GCS teacher says her check was close to $60 short on Friday and other employees we’re missing up to half of their money. Other employees told WBTV they got most of the money they were owed in their checks from last month on Friday but they said some amounts we’re still remaining.

“It wasn’t right or it was short, or it didn’t make sense,” she said.

She says the most frustrating part is hourly employees including substitute teachers, bus drivers, custodians, and teachers assistants are also experiencing pay issues.

“These people get paid hourly and they do the hardest job,” she said.

“Today, we are running what is called an “off-cycle” payroll to help correct issues that have been experienced this week. We anticipate this “off-cycle” payroll run will help correct some 225 outstanding errors. Staff is working to address other outstanding errors related to employee payroll information that is not transferring correctly in the system as well as errors related to employee voluntary deductions,” the district stated.

Employees say they just want some direction and clear communication from the district, and felt their previous communication was not apologetic.

“We really really would love to have a payroll representative come to the school or make a video or something like that just know that we’re being supported without just an email,” she said.

GCS says it is scheduled to pay employees their retroactive pay by mid-March. This payment is retroactive pay for July 1, 2021 through December 31, 2021 that is a result of salary/pay increases in the state budget.

Teachers say they wish the district had an emergency fund to help them in the meantime.

“You need to have a backup plan, you need to have a way to say we know this might be bumpy let’s have this just in case let’s have this here and ready just in case.”

“Funds are available to pay employees – we are not withholding pay on purpose, and our staff is working diligently to identify, address, and correct issues in the system so employees are paid. We are working each day to make the system better, but it is a process that cannot be fixed instantaneously,” the district stated.

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