Austin ISD Salary Screw Up

UPDATE: Accounting system failure leads to underpaid teachers

Austin ISD Salary Screw Up

Many Austin ISD teachers are wondering where their money is this morning, after an accounting system screw up left an unknown number with miscalculated and short salary checks.

The issue seems to be connected to the district's digital accounting system, and it only became known when staff received their October pay check yesterday. The issue seems to be restricted to teacher salaries only, with administrative and classified employees such as custodians and bus drivers unaffected. However, some teachers are seeing a big impact. Education Austin president Ken Zarifis said, "We were hearing that there were some $300-$400 differences with the paychecks."

Zarifis said he had been told by the administration that "isolated employee groups" had been affected, but he is still waiting to hear numbers.

Some staff saw their checks reduced to balance out a previous system glitch – overpayments in August. However, there were two areas where the system failed: First, in handling step and scheduled salary increases, and second, in REACH teacher incentive pay. While concerned about both, Zarifis said that the incentive checks are overshadowed by concerns about the base pay. He said, "Your payroll check is so much about your monthly bills, and we need to get them out to people now."

Zarifis said he did not want to point fingers at the administration. However, he saw this as a consequence of state cuts to funding, at a time when the accounting system needs upgrading. "I get the sense that this is an overly-burdened system that can't handle the amount of input and what's being demanded of it." He added, "Until a payroll system breaks down, its hard to make the argument that it needs replacing."

UPDATE, 1.55pm: Staff in the office of Chief Financial Officer Nicole Conley have been working since the error was discovered last night. An internal audit found that the bulk of the errors were on REACH payments, and some staff are already seeing direct deposits into their accounts. The plan is to have all currently-known errors corrected by close of business Monday. However, an email will go out to all staff today, and they are encouraged to contact the district if they feel there are more undetected errors in their pay.

The problem seems to be a software issue with the district's accounting system. The district actually included over $1 million for upgrades in the 2008 bond package, but that's a less than optimal way to pay for systems like that. Ideally, it should come out of the maintenance and operations side of the budget. However, with ISDs across Texas operating on shoe string day-to-day funding, increasingly such virtualized investment is being tied in with construction spending.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Austin ISD
AISD Trustees: Slow Down on School Closures
AISD Trustees: Slow Down on School Closures
Concerns raised over facilities plan timeline, community engagement

Austin Sanders, Feb. 12, 2019

AISD Starts the Clock on School Closures
AISD Starts the Clock on School Closures
Board set to decide in June on campus consolidations

Austin Sanders, Feb. 8, 2019

Saldaña Quits AISD Board
Saldaña Quits AISD Board
Trustee cites workload for abrupt exit

Richard Whittaker, April 7, 2017

Ben Carson Invites Himself to Austin ISD
Carson vs. Garcia?
GOP contender's photo op plan quietly falls apart

Richard Whittaker, Oct. 17, 2015

More by Richard Whittaker
How Oscar Nominee Lukasz Zal Made Us Look at <i>Cold War</i>
How Oscar Nominee Lukasz Zal Made Us Look at Cold War
Academy-lauded cinematographer on shooting black-and-white truths

Feb. 23, 2019

In Production: Riding the Rails With Jason Neulander’s Upcoming Feature, <i>Fugitive Dreams</i>
In Production: Riding the Rails With Jason Neulander’s Upcoming Feature, Fugitive Dreams
“It’s a road movie about two homeless people trying to survive in middle America”

Feb. 22, 2019


Austin ISD, AISD, Ken Zarifis, Education Austin, REACH, Teacher Pay, Incentives

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle