‘It’s messing with our livelihoods:’ Gaston County Schools employees frustrated after payday

The district says staff from Oracle are on-site helping with payroll issues
Gaston County Schools employees received their paychecks Thursday after months of issues.
Published: Oct. 27, 2022 at 6:25 PM EDT

GASTONIA, N.C. (WBTV) - Another payday for Gaston County Schools has come and gone, and several employees say the same issues remain.

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

Officials say there have been dozens of errors with uploading employee retirement, fixing deductions, correcting extra payments, and sending employees checks if they did not get one.

WBTV first reported on the payroll transition in February as the district transitioned to the Oracle system with the help of online technical support company CherryRoad Technologies.

Shellie Black has dedicated 19 years to serving fresh meals and supporting cafeteria staff in Gaston County Schools, a job she loves, but says her last 10 months have been a nightmare due to incorrect paychecks and says now it’s costing her.

“I’ve had to call and get my mortgage fixed so that I can just pay half this time and pay half this time and a full payment next time to get it caught up,” Black said.

Click here to see the October presentation from the school district’s finance department.

Since January, the district says it has cut hundreds of paper checks, done several off-cycle pay runs, hired customer service staff, and processed refunds to fix overpayments, extra deductions, and more.

The school district sent an email to employees last Wednesday regarding updates on the ongoing payroll issues including issuing refunds for Educational Partners International (EPI) teachers who had extra FICA and retirement deductions, correcting summer pay rates for nutrition staff, adjusting longevity pay for employees who did not receive it in July, and updating classified employees that their pay increases were entered into the payroll system - this pay increase is paid retroactively to July 1.

Previous Coverage: ‘A nightmare:’ GCS educators share concerns over W-2 paperwork as paycheck issues continue

N.C. state representative shares email confirming Gaston Co. Schools was advised to wait on transition to new payroll system

As of last Wednesday, the district says it is still trying to successfully upload the June retirement file into the ORBIT state retirement system.

“It has been submitted to the ORBIT state retirement system on several occasions, but it has not yet been accepted because of errors. Once the June file is accepted, we will submit the July file,” the school district said in an email.

Longtime teacher Amanda Parker says even her early 2022 retirement files were delayed, which she says could affect her timeline on when she will retire.

“For myself it makes it look like I haven’t even worked in the school system last year at all and I’m within a year of retiring,” Parker said. “This is messing with our livelihoods, all of us, it’s messing with our livelihoods and it’s very frustrating.”

Last week the district said it would be paying biweekly nutrition employees like Black, their overdue summer pay on October 21, yet multiple nutrition employees told WBTV the summer pay still hasn’t been deposited.

“We worked this summer as everybody else worked and everybody else got their pay for the summer but school nutrition did not get their summer pay yet,” Black said.

On October 13, WBTV reported Guilford County Schools was transitioning to Oracle and CherryRoad Technologies in January 2023 but received an email from Guilford on October 19 stating it ended its contract with the software companies on October 14.

On October 27, WBTV requested updates from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools on its contract with Oracle and CherryRoad Technologies, but we have not heard back at this time.

A customer service team is visiting all of the district’s schools by the end of October.

This is a developing story.