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U46 struggling with persisting payroll problems By Krista J. Lee (Courier News, Elgin) STAFF WRITER
ELGIN -- Elgin School District U46 employees learned Tuesday that the district still is experiencing payroll problems more than a month after switching to a new computer system.
Sue LeHuray, director of financial services, said her department has been working overtime and on weekends for weeks to solve the problems but still has more to do before the problems are completely resolved.
"There are still some problems," she said. "We sent a memo to all staff that went out with the paychecks detailing the resolutions."
The problems began with the checks issued Jan. 15, when some of the district's 4,500 staff members found they were not paid the proper wage.
The problem continued with the checks issued Jan. 31, when most district employees found errors in the amounts deducted from their paychecks. For example, staff members who receive stipends for additional duties found the deductions regularly taken from their salaries also were taken from their stipends, leaving some with stipend checks for nothing. Those deductions were paid back in checks issued Tuesday.
Exactly what is happening with some of the deductions also has become a concern to staff members. A teacher at Streamwood High School said deductions that are supposed to go to tax-sheltered annuities have not been transferred to the proper financial agencies since the beginning of the year.
"Since my annuity was not paid on time, I'm losing interest and the district is gaining interest," said the teacher, who asked that her name not be used. "It's a nice bit of interest when you put us all together."
LeHuray said the problems with the annuity deductions also have been caused by the new computer system and are taking longer to remedy because the district works with 60 different annuity companies.
"Because of the (other) problems, it's taking an enormous amount of time," she said. "It's a slow process for one person and an assistant to do."
The district has received help from technicians, but LeHuray said much of the work cannot be done by someone who is not familiar with the systems.
LeHuray said she does not know how long it will take to fix the problem with the annuities, but employees will be compensated for the lost interest.
"The memo we sent to employees said we would compensate them for lost interest at a rate to be determined," she said. Union issues
The payroll problems have led the Elgin Teachers Association to file a grievance with the district on behalf of the union's 2,200 teachers, the Streamwood teacher said. ETA President Dave Alexander would not confirm that a grievance had been filed.
He did say, however, that "we view that very seriously and it's a matter we're taking up with the district." He said he understands problems can occur when transferring to a new system, but the problems need to be solved.
"Our concern is, let people know what's happening, what to expect and some kind of time line," Alexander said. "Most people can understand if they're being treated with respect and given some information so they have some understanding."
The district's previous payroll system was replaced Jan. 1 by the new system because the 18-year-old system was not Y2K compliant. Reporter Krista J. Lee covers education. If you have news tips or column items, you may reach her at (847) 888-7759 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
-- Martin Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 16, 2000