Polk County Public Schools will issue paper paychecks in August, a one-time measure that will ensure all employees receive their full amount of pay despite the postponed start of school, while also minimizing losses to the district.
“The coronavirus pandemic has affected every facet of life, including our payroll,” said Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd.
The 2020-21 school year was originally set to begin on Aug. 10, but in response to the virus, the district has postponed the start of the year until Aug. 24. The start days for 10- and 11-month employees were also changed. For instance, teachers would have reported on Aug. 3, but now they report on Aug. 17.
While the district delayed the date for employees to report to work, it is paying employees as if the delay hadn’t happened.
“We know these are extremely challenging times for our employees and their families. In the case of our teachers, they were expecting to receive a paycheck at the end of August that reflected them reporting to work on Aug. 3,” Byrd said.
“Had we adjusted their pay to the Aug. 17 start date, they would have received approximately half the amount they were expecting. We could not do that to our workforce.”
Eleven-month employees would have also received smaller-than-expected paychecks had the district adjusted their pay to reflect their postponed start.
“We couldn’t let our employees pay for the pandemic. That just wouldn’t have been right. We decided to pay our employees just as they would have if the delayed start had not happened. Paper paychecks will allow us to balance getting our employees their full expected August pay while still being responsible stewards of the district’s finances,” said Mike Perrone, PCPS’ chief financial officer.
Perrone explained that to allow enough time for processing, payroll information must be entered about two weeks prior to pay day. Occasionally, employees resign, retire, or take a leave of absence in the days after the month’s payroll has been submitted. When that happens, supervisors are able to adjust their employees’ pay to reflect time they didn’t work, but discrepancies can still occur. The district must then adjust leave balances or recoup payments after the fact, which is difficult to do.
Historically, there has always been a lot of movement within the school district in August — again, with employees resigning, retiring or simply not reporting to work — which is why for years, paper paychecks in August were standard. That practice was discontinued a couple years ago as a cost-savings measure, and because practices have been put into place to better assure payroll accuracy.
But, with employees reporting to work later than planned this school year, there was even less time for payroll to be rectified before checks would be cut, which meant the chance for discrepancies was higher.
District officials decided it would make sense to revert to paper paychecks to better control who is being paid in August. If an employee does not report to work on Aug. 17 as expected, his or her supervisor can simply hold back the paper check.
“Without this one-time use of paper paychecks, that employee would have received their pay via direct deposit and the district would more than likely never get it back,” Perrone said.
“We are in exceptionally difficult financial times. The district cannot afford to pay employees for work they didn’t perform. Paper paychecks in August are a one-time inconvenience that will help us ensure the integrity of our payroll.”
Employees are normally paid on the last working day of the month, which is Aug. 31. However, paper paychecks will be available on Aug. 27 to allow employees enough time to deposit their checks before any automatic payments scheduled for Aug. 31 post.
Paychecks will be delivered to school and district office sites for distribution to employees.
Employees who need more information should contact their supervisors or email firstname.lastname@example.org.