SF School District Apologizes For Not Paying & Underpaying Hundreds Of Teachers – But Problem Persists
Up to 1,500 educators in the San Francisco school district may have trouble with their paychecks or haven’t been paid at all in the past month, according to the teachers’ union.
The issue stems from the district’s move to a new accounting system, but may also speak to deeper issues within the finance department.
The turmoil comes at a time when district and council leaders have come under scrutiny for their failure to successfully manage finances.
Laura Dudnick, spokesperson for the district, released a statement saying the district apologizes, takes full responsibility and is trying to resolve the issue, blaming issues transitioning from an outdated system to EMPower SF, the new system which cost the district $9.5 million. .
“It’s inexcusable and shouldn’t have happened,” Dudnick said.
The district says the vast majority of the district’s 10,000 employees have been properly paid through EMPowerSF, but the number of teachers experiencing pay issues continues to rise. Teachers are paid monthly, so many just find trouble. Others started seeing and reporting issues two months ago.
The district has moved 10 staff from other functions to support payroll, a district spokesperson said in a statement, and that staff are “working to understand any error patterns caused by the new process or configuration. of the system so that corrections can be made for subsequent pay periods.
Like Prince, most educators involved are those with two different job roles. They can work as a para-educator, substitute, work in Saturday school or in a work recovery program. Some are on leave. But there are also problems with benefits and deductions.
Teacher Elia Romero got a call from her accountant last week. “My accountant was shocked. He told me I owed $8,000 between federal and state [taxes]. I usually owe about $2,000 a year.
When Romero told the district that he under withheld his taxes in 2021, she said the district told her to go change her withholding for the coming year. But that won’t solve this year’s problem.
“I’m going to wipe a lot of savings to pay for this and it feels like a punch in the stomach. I owe a lot of money because the district screwed up. It’s a bitter pill to swallow. It’s very hard to come up with $8,000 by April 18, and I’m considering selling my mutual funds to cover it. It really made me cry.
Beyond its initial cost, the school board approved two other payments totaling an additional $4.2 million to support the launch of EMPowerSF last year. “They said the extra money was needed for more transition and prep time and for people to live on,” school board commissioner Matt Alexander said.
“They wanted all that money to make a smooth rollout, but everything they were trying to prevent is happening. It’s anything but smooth,” he said. Alexander says he is horribly frustrated with how slowly teachers are paid.
Teachers are paid once a month, so running out of money has caused panic among some, who have spoken out angrily at recent school board meetings.
More than 100 educators had to take time off from teaching and parent-teacher conferences last week to attend a pop-up clinic in the district to try to fix their paychecks.
So far, the district has cut 861 checks to educators, according to the teachers’ union, United Educators of San Francisco, which represents 6,500 teachers in the district. The district says the vast majority of its 10,000 employees have been compensated without issue since rolling out the new payroll system.
The district says it has a support ticketing system in place to help track and track every nonpayment or underpayment issue accurately.
Lihn Gee has filed several tickets with the district system since realizing the district underpaid her about $4,500, and was told a payroll specialist would help her.
“This is my third time submitting the ticket, and so far no one has contacted me,” said Gee, who teaches at Phillip and Sala Burton University High School in Visitacion Valley, as well as online education and credit recovery. teach in the evening.
“I mean, this year has already been really tough to start with. So doing your job to help kids that aren’t your usual day to day doing it and then not getting paid…I’ve been very patient, but it’s “It’s infuriating. Like you don’t respect the work we do,” Gee said.
Gee received an email Friday morning from someone who works in the district telling him to check his bank account. When she did, Gee discovered that the district had only deposited $130 of the $4,500 they owed her.
“It’s demoralizing,” Gee said.