A number of folks provided public comments at this meeting. The district (for reasons I do not understand) often strips those from the video that it posts. You can watch them here (on YouTube).
Payroll Problems: Normalizing Mediocrity
I have been hearing from teachers and staff for several months about problems getting paid. These concerns have now reached a fever pitch.
First, there is a problem in getting teachers paid for summer work. Here is what one teacher said:
Be prepared for angry teachers. We were told we would be paid today, and that it would be what we were owed from the first check. I was told it would be Tues, and then today. Around lunch time an email came out from payroll saying that at the open of the business day today, a direct deposit would be available in our acct. I had nothing deposited or pending (I called the bank). No one at my site was paid today, but the check stub shows it cleared today. My last check showed the hourly rate, this has nothing. And of course, there was no one at the district office to speak with. I, along with many other teachers will not be giving up another summer to do this. This was my first time and last time. It has been nothing but a nightmare.
Unfortunately, this is not a new problem. I have heard from teacher after teacher who say this is a recurring problem every single summer. I learned today that teachers have been asked to fill out a “Pay Discrepancy” Google form indicating what they have been paid and what they believe the discrepancy is. This suggests that we have some very fundamental problems with payroll.
Second, I am hearing from teachers who are struggling to get paid for extra work during the school year. For example, one teacher forwarded me the six emails she had to send over a period of months (beginning this spring) to get paid accurately.
And then there is today–August 1st. I have heard from numerous teachers who participated in the teacher mentor program but have not been paid. They were supposed to be paid today (August 1st) for work that had been submitted for payment a while back. They were not. They have been struggling to get anyone from payroll on the phone, and they are not able to leave a voicemail. And someone from HR sent them an email asking that they not call HR about this. Teachers should not have to beg to get paid.
This is a leadership problem. We are normalizing mediocrity when we as a board defend this. This is not how we should be treating our teachers and staff.
As of the board meeting we learned that we have 218 teacher vacancies. I think we need to (1) acknowledge this as a failure and (2) accept responsibility for our part in this failure. I understand that issues outside our control are contributing to our struggles in retaining and recruiting our teachers. But that doesn’t absolve us from all responsibility. Why do we lose more than other districts? Why do we struggle to recruit more than other districts? I suspect those exit interviews I have been requesting for months would shed light on these questions.
Time for a New Direction
The 2015 contract with the superintendent contains a clause permitting the board to terminate the contract at any time for any reason. At the board meeting I moved that we exercise this right. I did not make this motion lightly. I think a sudden change of leadership in the district would be challenging. However, I have come to the conclusion that we cannot afford to continue down our current path. It is time for a change.
The board voted 5-2 against my motion.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
We often hear at our board meetings that “teamwork makes the dream work.” As a number of teachers have said to me, “which team are y’all on? It doesn’t seem like y’all are on our team.” That has to change.