Gaston Co. Schools approves COVID retention bonus, discusses payroll issues at school board meeting

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GASTONIA, NC (WBTV) — More money is on the way for Gaston County school workers, but many are skeptical if they’ll get it in time or not at all.

The district moved from its old payroll system to a new system, Oracle, in late January.

Officials say there were dozens of errors when uploading employee pensions, setting deductions, correcting extra payments, and sending checks to employees if they don’t have any. have not received.

WBTV first reported on the payroll transition in February as the district moved to the Oracle system with the help of an online tech support company Cherry Road Technologies.

Previous cover: ‘What is the road?’ Gaston County school employees continue to face pay issues; state treasurer communicating with district staff

At Monday’s board of education meeting, district staff said they would seek the assistance of another consulting firm Oracle True Ingenuity to help improve workflow, prepare necessary reports, and assess security issues.

This company also works with CMS.

“They are engaged with us and they are on your consent program to help improve our workflow, to prepare the necessary reports to avoid certain problems that could be avoided if we have information in advance, and to escalate any security issues,” Gary Hoskins said. , the district’s associate superintendent for finance and operations.

The district is still working to upload the June retreat files to the ORBIT system.

Alexa Gram Feller, a longtime teacher and vice president of Gaston NCAE, says she is very concerned that her and her husband’s retirement are being handled properly.

“Especially me since I’m towards the end of my career, making sure I get everything I need for my retirement,” Gram Feller said.

Teacher and Gaston NCAE President Pam Miller says her paychecks have not been significantly affected, but she fears hers could be affected in the future, like hundreds of other employees.

“My paycheck has been good but it could be my turn in September or my turn in October. I have accumulated as much money as I can in case that happens,” Miller said.

Adrienne Scearce worked as a teaching assistant and student success coordinator with the school district for nearly three and a half years before changing careers in May.

Scearce says even now she hasn’t been paid for the after-school program on top of her day-to-day role. Scearce says many employees, including herself, have received compensation time for all hours outside of their 40-hour work week. She says she took this to her supervisors to be corrected.

“I still haven’t been paid for any of those hours and I’m down to about 150 hours,” Scearce said.

Scearce says she is still trying to get clear communication and a schedule from GCS and hopes other employees will get their good checks soon.

“I don’t care if we just owe them a dollar, you know that’s money they worked for and they deserve to get it,” Scearce said.

On Monday, board members approved a $3,000 COVID retention bonus spread over this school year.

This will be paid for from federal ESSER funds for a total of $12.0 million.

Both Gram Feller and Miller think the bonus should have been at least $5,000.

“For everything everyone went through in this payday, I think we should get more,” Gram Feller said.

Miller also isn’t sure the bonuses will be paid on time.

“I have a feeling that will be the case, we will always have issues with people getting their promised salary in a timely manner,” Miller said.

Additionally, Council members provide a $1,200 payment for K-5 teachers who complete state-mandated LETRS. Payment will be made in two installments over the next two years. This will also be paid for with $1 million in ESSER funds.

GCS is still working to reimburse employees who have incurred additional deductions from their checks, write paper checks and run off-cycle payroll cycles as needed, set longevity bonuses and catch up on downloads of retirement files.

“Hopefully whatever they put in place will make it better,” Gram Feller said.

The municipality plans to pay the first third of the bonus in January and the other two in June. In addition, LETRS training money will be paid out to employees this year and next year.

GCS has also opened a customer service desk for employees who need help to better streamline communication.

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