01/10/12 — Schools ask for delay in payroll change

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Schools ask for delay in payroll change

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 10, 2012 1:46 PM

Wayne County Board of Education Monday night adopted a resolution urging the General Assembly to delay a proposal changing the way school systems pay 10-month employees.

As it stands, the education package called the "School and Teacher Paperwork Reduction Act," passed over the summer by the General Assembly, would eliminate prepayment of salaries, effective July 1, 2012, and pushed the first paycheck of the school year from Aug. 31 to Sept. 15.

House Bill 720 had been introduced to offset problems created when employees left before the end of the school year, making it difficult to recoup that money.

But the anticipated gap in pay dates has created a stir among educators, feeling it would leave many short on cash to pay bills.

"The way the law is currently written, there are contradictions," said Nan Barwick, assistant superintendent for finance in Wayne County Public Schools.

Perhaps it would be wise to take some additional time to study the matter further, she suggested. She said she has been in discussions with the School Boards Association about the possibility of an extension, proposing another year to prepare for the changes.

"I feel confident that other boards probably have or are doing something similar because we all need to have some clarification," she said. "I think the School Boards Association just wanted to make sure that the General Assembly understood the dilemma they have put the school boards in."

Having a year extension before the measure goes into effect would allow legislators time to further study and "tweak" the language in the bill, Mrs. Barwick said. Hopefully, it would also resolve concerns over the potential "burdensome financial impact" imposed by the requirements.

"Time is of the essence for these changes in order to plan and implement revised school pay dates beginning with the 2012-13 school year, and to provide information about the upcoming changes to employees in sufficient time for them to make necessary financial preparations," the resolution said.

Through the document, the school board urged the General Assembly to "make critical changes" to the legislation enacted in 2011.

"Retain the statutory provisions that prohibit prepayment in August of teachers other than those who are employed in year-round schools, and extend this prohibition to other school employees," it said. "Delete the statutory requirements that the initial pay date for teachers must be no later than August 31 each year and that subsequent pay dates are spaced no more than one month apart."

It also asked that lawmakers delete the requirement that each payment include a full monthly payment and add language to allow pay dates to differ from the end of the month of service, and restore language providing for the recovery of limited prepayments.

Further, it asked that the local board be allowed to establish pay dates for teachers and 10-month employees on a monthly, semi-monthly or bi-weekly basis, or a combination of those, as long as each includes a full payment for salary due during the specific period, and to defer the implementation of the pay date changes to July 1, 2013.

Since the original law was enacted to be effective July 1 of this year, the proposed changes need to be acted upon as quickly as possible, reflected in Section 3 of the resolution.

"Due to time sensitivity of these changes, the board strongly urges the General Assembly to pass this amendment during the General Assembly's session scheduled for February 16-18, 2012, or during any other session scheduled before the convening of the short session on May 16, 2012," the document said.