Thursday, November 8, 2007

Could this be true???

I am happy to say that I have received what appears to be an accurate paycheck. After 3 months of agony, I can hardly believe it. I am waiting for the money to be pulled from my account. We shall see...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Education Week- 10/24/2007

National news!

Published Online: October 22, 2007
Published in Print: October 24, 2007

Heat on L.A. Schools to Fix Payroll Errors Still Riling Teachers
By Andrew Trotter

The Los Angeles school district is still under fire for its difficulties in paying teachers accurately, after thousands of teachers were overpaid or underpaid for the first two months of the 2007-08 school year.
But district officials believe the school year’s third payroll, on Nov. 5, will have far fewer problems, if the latest fix to the computerized payroll system works. Those modifications are to be tested Oct. 27.
The payroll problem began last January, with the launch of a new, corporate-style system to handle the payroll for the district’s 110,000 full- and part-time employees. It became a public spectacle on June 5, when more than 32,000 district employees received incorrect pay statements. ("Glitches in Los Angeles Payroll System Spark Furor," June 20, 2007.)
After trying to work out the kinks over the summer, officials of the 708,000-student Los Angeles Unified School District admit the problems will likely continue until the end of 2007. They have attributed the errors to hasty implementation of the system, software glitches, and inadequate training of pay clerks at schools.
On Oct. 5, the latest monthly payday, 6,239 certified employees received wrong pay amounts because of software glitches, said David Holmquist, the district’s interim chief operating officer, in an interview last week.
But for the first time since the problem began, Mr. Holmquist said, all of the mistakes due to system errors were overpayments, with no underpayments. He noted that underpayments did occur for other reasons, such as late filings by school-based pay clerks.
New Expert Hired
Superintendent David L. Brewer III has said further improvements, based on simplifications of the district’s complex teacher-pay structure, can be made by next July.
But the local teachers’ union, United Teachers Los Angeles, sees that timeline as unacceptable.
On Oct. 11, Mr. Brewer appointed Anthony Tortorice to be the district’s chief information officer. Mr. Tortorice served as chief information office for the region’s Los Angeles Community College District, which consists of nine colleges with about 5,000 full- and part-time employees, according to the school district.
“Notably, Tortorice led the successful implementation of a human-resources payroll system using the same technology as LAUSD’s new payroll system,” the district said in a statement. “Tortorice’s expertise in developing and implementing this technology will be a great asset as the district seeks to stabilize its payroll system by the end of 2007.”
Teacher Daniel Barnhart speaks outside the Los Angeles school district’s headquarters as part of a Sept. 25 demonstration staged by United Teachers Los Angeles to protest errors in employees’ paychecks that have persisted since January’s launch of new computer software for payroll.
—Richard Lui/AP
And last month, the district hired EPI-USE America Inc., an Atlanta-based company that specializes in the brand of software used in the new system, under a one-year contract of up to $9.8 million.
The payroll problem has become a cloud over Mr. Brewer’s tenure in Los Angeles, even though the system was selected and developed under his predecessor, Roy Romer.
Salary overpayments, which must be repaid to the district, disrupt teachers’ lives, said Marla Eby, a spokeswoman for United Teachers Los Angeles, an affiliate of the both American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association. And all teachers have suffered from the uncertainty over whether their next pay deposits will be correct, she said.
“Teachers used to look forward to payday; now they dread it,” Ms. Eby said.
The union has kept up a drumbeat of criticism about the problems since January and has used a smattering of tactics to pressure the district, including boycotts of faculty meetings, a short-lived lawsuit, and leafleting.
In a protest dubbed “Camp Beaudry,” seven union officials camped out for three days starting Oct. 5, the latest payday, and tended to teachers as they went to and from the district headquarters on Beaudry Avenue to resolve errors in their pay statements, Ms. Eby said. “We gave them food; the district only gives them $3 food vouchers” for the headquarters’ cafeteria, she said.
In another tactic, which Ms. Eby said was not union-led, teachers have posted videos on the Internet service YouTube featuring teachers and their students testifying to the hardships engendered by the payroll problems. In one video presented by “Jill,” evidently a teacher, a 4th grader named Ricardo says that if the problem is not solved soon, his former 1st grade teacher will “be in the street, no clothes, no food, no rent”; he asks viewers to contact Mr. Brewer.
Companies’ Role
Union officials have spotlighted the two companies behind the payroll system—SAP AG, a German company, which created the software, and Deloitte Consulting LLP, based in New York City, which customized it for the district—and said they have not been held to account for their roles.
Mr. Holmquist declined comment on the two companies except to say that an ongoing district investigation includes an examination of their roles and whether the software was appropriately chosen and effectively tailored to the district’s needs.
He said the district aims to have errors “below 1 percent of any given payroll” by the end of 2007.
PHOTO: Teacher Daniel Barnhart speaks outside the Los Angeles school district’s headquarters as part of a Sept. 25 demonstration staged by United Teachers Los Angeles to protest errors in employees’ paychecks that have persisted since January’s launch of new computer software for payroll.
—Richard Lui/AP
Vol. 27, Issue 09, Page 7

Thursday, October 11, 2007

LA Weekly Article-10/11/07

Will Teach for Food
A payroll disaster at LAUSD ruins educators’ finances, with no fix in sight
By David Ferrell
Wednesday, October 10, 2007 - 8:00 pm

Jordana Alzate with baby Enzo: “Some nights I’m crying.” (Photo by Orly Oliver)
Jordana Alzate’s year was tough enough, what with her youngest child, Enzo, being born prematurely and nearly dying of liver and gastrointestinal problems before the tiny child slowly recovered.“Then,” the second-grade teacher and mother of four said ruefully, “I got hit with this.”The back end of the double whammy was one of the biggest computer payroll problems in state history — a disaster that has blind-sided some 40,000 Los Angeles Unified School District employees and has now lasted nearly as long as Alzate’s pregnancy. It was January when the district’s new, $95 million payroll system started spewing out erroneous checks, underpaying some people, overpaying others, and creating such chaos that administrators now pay special counselors to deal with the psychological trauma.The blunders persist despite $37.5 million in fix-it cash, and teachers are ratcheting up the pressure by boycotting faculty meetings and holding rallies. They marched on September 25 outside the LAUSD offices — “We won’t take it no more!” hundreds chanted — and, two days later, state Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero (D–East Los Angeles) conducted a hearing to try to determine who is at fault and why it is taking so inexplicably long to correct.A surfeit of angry rhetoric and finger-pointing has largely overshadowed the personal stories of teachers like Alzate, forced to cope for months with checks that have no connection whatsoever to what they actually earn. Except in a few egregious cases, most shortchanged teachers have managed to pay their bills, often using emergency loans and credit cards. Some have bounced checks; others have drained their savings. But the financial hardships are made far more painful by the frustration of haggling with a bureaucracy that just can’t get its act together.“I don’t get it. It makes no sense to me,” says Alzate, who last received a correct paycheck in February. Sitting at her kitchen table one recent afternoon in Granada Hills, Alzate spread out several months of pay stubs and showed how impossible it is to make sense of the seemingly random figures. The smallest of her checks was for total earnings of $181 — a fraction of what she was really owed for a month’s work — and net pay of $297, more than her gross.“It’s like they’re just making up these numbers,” she says. “Every month that it goes on, I feel like I’m losing track of what they owe me.”Alzate, whose husband, Ivan, coaches soccer for a nonprofit organization, has borrowed money from her parents and used emergency loans and credit cards to pay bills and buy food. Like so many teachers swept up in the morass, she has fought to get money that is owed to her, only to see the problem get worse and worse.“It’s a joke,” she says. “It seems like such simple math to me. Every check is off by at least $1,000 now.”Los Angeles teachers receive one paycheck a month. Alzate’s first botched check was directly deposited into her bank account in March. It was about $800 higher than normal. Assuming that it reflected a 6 percent retroactive pay raise, and preoccupied with taking her sickly newborn to medical specialists, she did nothing until her April check showed up $1,400 short. “I was completely shocked,” she says. “I called downtown. I was told they were working on it. The next month, May, I did not get a check at all.”By then, the district was issuing thousands of emergency checks to employees who were underpaid. Alzate, who has taught for eight years at Topeka Drive Elementary School in Northridge, joined the throngs who spent hours in line and got a check for $1,400 — about $1,000 less than normal take-home pay.The trouble with these emergency checks is that they are “advances” against future pay. Most teachers who have accepted emergency checks are now in a Looking Glass world where they get paid less than they are due, but are on the books as “owing” the district. And this absurdity quickly compounds itself: Almost invariably, the district collects on these supposed debts by deducting them from the next, often equally mangled, paycheck. So now, many teachers are receiving deduction-riddled, truly minuscule paychecks, sending them right back in line for more emergency checks — and putting them even further in debt. Little surprise, then, that a recurring tide of angry employees is descending upon the district’s “pay centers,” feeding an ever-worsening accounting nightmare. Some teachers, like Sandra Leon, from Chester W. Nimitz Middle School in Huntington Park, have been sickened to find they “owe” more than $10,000 after being underpaid for months. “I’m working for free,” Leon says with disdain. Alzate’s “debts” are not as bad as Leon’s, but in September she was told she owed $3,700. She’s baffled over that, especially since the newfangled pay stubs do not bother to say how many hours she has worked or what she now earns per hour.The pay stubs — filled with code numbers — are so complicated that the school district has produced a video to help teachers and other workers decipher them. And in true LAUSD style, a new effort is under way to redesign the pay stubs — by committee. “We’ve set up a committee, along with union members, to help us redesign the pay stub — make it a more user-friendly, readable format,” says David Holmquist, LAUSD’s interim chief operating officer and the point man for fixing this mess.Alzate says she’s so fearful that she now stays up until midnight each time her check is due to be deposited, just to be sure it arrived in the bank and is enough to cover the bills.“Some nights I’m crying,” she says. “My husband says, ‘It’s the middle of the night.’ I’m not sleeping well, I’m not eating well, and I’m stressed. I end up tossing and turning the entire night.”Alzate says she was assured that her problem had been resolved, and was promised that she would be sent a personal payment history that would set everything straight. The payment history arrived later that month with a cover letter. “Unfortunately,” the letter read, “we believe your report still contains errors as a result of continuing errors...” It listed a mysterious $2,030 claim against her salary and said she owes LAUSD $358.“If they knew it was wrong, why did they send it to me?” she asks. Next came her September check: $485.“I cried on the phone for two hours,” Alzate recalls. “I’m not usually a crier. I cried. I was blubbering.” Her baby needs care, she told a school official. She can’t deal with these problems. “I shouldn’t have to live like this.”Holmquist, who calls the mess the district’s most urgent priority, says the biggest underlying problem has been the complex conversion to a uniform pay calendar for teachers whose salaries often vary because of bonuses and extra assignments. He acknowledges that the district erred by not phasing in the new system gradually, while the old system was still functioning as a backup.Holmquist was not involved in the switchover and declined to pin blame on the district, the German hardware vendor SAP or the consulting firm of Deloitte & Touche, which custom-tailored the off-the-shelf payroll system to LAUSD’s needs and is now getting an avalanche of bad press. Litigation is likely. Holmquist concedes that about 3,800 people got faulty checks in September — and October may be even worse. He says most problems will be corrected by November, but admits there’s no guarantee. Teachers, meanwhile, form a long roll call of the disenfranchised and disgusted. Jill Iger, who teaches first grade at Leo Politi Elementary in Koreatown, persuaded some humans down at district headquarters that she does not owe $8,000. “But they don’t know how to get it out of the [computer] system.” D’Ette Nogle, a teacher at Fairfax High, got a paycheck for $15.08. She and her husband, Mark Roeder, who teaches at Johnnie L. Cochran Middle School, claim to have racked up debts of over $9,900.“They say I owe them $3,300,” says Rachel Bloch, who teaches at the International Studies Learning Center in South Gate and who bounced her car-insurance check. With a newborn daughter at home, her husband, Gabriel, is studying child development and plans to become a teacher, too.“I’m advising him not to,” Bloch says. “‘No, no, no. You do something else.’”

Possible National Coverage of LAUSD Payroll Problems

I received this promising email today from a producer at CBS. Please post your story so that we can get the much needed national media coverage. If you are interested in sharing your story on the news let me know and I will pass your information along.


I am a producer with the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric and I'm working on the LAUSD teacher paycheck story. Marla Eby from UTLA gave me your e-mail address. We're looking to profile a teacher with a particularly acute personal financial crisis as a result of the paycheck mess. In your filming for your youtube posts, have you come across anyone that fits the bill (so to speak)? Or, do you know of any blogs where teachers are venting about the situation? My contact information is below. Thanks in advance for any help you might be able to provide.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Channel 4- The word is out!!!

Back from the District Office

District Office
8:45 a.m. arrival
9:19 a.m. sign in
1:11 p.m. leave the district office

I just got back and, unfortunately, without any money. This time the district says that too much was taken out for federal taxes and retirement. Since they had given me two emergency paychecks, they needed to take extra money out for taxes and retirement. Now this is what I ask myself, "What happened to the 30% of each of the two of my emergency paychecks that they were keeping for this purpose?" I certainly should not be taxed in a higher tax bracket. Or am I being taxed in a higher tax bracket because I was supposedly overpaid by the district? These questions were not answered. I was told that they would be figuring it out and I would get the money back at the end of the year. This is all I can hope for. The media was present today and teachers were finally being interviewed and LISTENED to. Thank goodness!

I did hear some good news today regarding my personal situation. I was told that I no longer owe the district money that they claimed that I owed them. The woman from payroll told me that this had been "washed" from the system. I don't know how they can do this. Maybe the other 30% of my paycheck was washed away too!

Yet another month of problems!

I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and the first thing that came to mind was, "I wonder if got paid?" I checked my bank account and did receive a deposit; however, it was $1600 short! So again, I ready myself for the frustrating, never-ending wait at the district office to beg someone for my paycheck. I am out of the classroom yet another day to try to get my paycheck. I am now going on 3 months of no pay and serious under payment. Ludicrous. I find myself singing the chorus from Black Swan all too often these days.