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Gaston County School Board members grow frustrated with ongoing payroll issues

For more than a year, employees have reported incorrect paychecks after a new payroll system was ushered in 2022.

GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — Gaston County school board members are demanding more accountability for payroll issues that have plagued the district for months. 

WCNC Charlotte has reported for more than a year about issues with employees' paychecks. 

Issues include overpayments, incorrect deductions, non-payments, and retirement contributions not being reflected. 

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On Monday night, the spotlight was on Gaston County Schools Associate Superintendent for Finance and Operations Gary Hoskins and Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Booker. 

Both are top-level employees tasked with leading the district out of its payroll problems. 

One school board member called the payroll issues a distraction that is long overdue to be resolved entirely. 

"It's just a dark cloud, Dr. Booker," Robbie Lovelace, a school board member said. "That's hovered over everything good that you've done for Gaston County Schools. This is how we're going to be remembered, it's horrible."

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Hoskins told the board the district has made some progress on both widespread payroll issues and those impacting individual staff members. 

"It is an ongoing process," Hoskins said. "A lot of the individual issues that are outstanding are incorrect deductions, overpayments." 

Board members expressed appreciation for the work Hoskins and his staff have done so far, but weren't satisfied with the progress and communication of his team. 

"Teachers are held accountable, administrators are held accountable and that should also work all the way up to the county office," Lovelace said. 

Another board member questioned the role of Oracle, the company behind the software of the new payroll system. 

"I mean I asked the superintendent do we sue Oracle, I mean, whose fault is all this?" Lee Dedmon, a school board member said. "And when can we help our teachers? I mean, we don't need to lose any more teachers." 

Staff who protested before the meeting said they were being forgotten. 

"We as employees of Gaston County, they're our employer, they should have this fixed," Alexa Gram Feller, a Gaston County teacher said. "There should not be an issue after all these months. There should not be any issues at all." 

Now that tax season is here some staff members are wary of doing their taxes with incorrect W-2s. 

"I have hired an accountant to work on my taxes because it is such a mess," one teacher said to school board members. "And I have been advised not to file my taxes because I know that the W-2 was incorrect. So I am stuck waiting on a return that my family could use."

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Again, the district staff couldn't give board members or the public a set timeline for fixing all issues. 

According to staff, there were 1,834 payroll issues reported from January to September. A customer care team was set up in October; Hoskins said the team spoke to the staff experiencing issues. 

"And as of right now, we still have about 500 issues that we're still working on," Hoskins said.

Some board members suggested hiring more people in the finance department to help. 

"At some point in time, we're gonna have to jump off this train," Lovelace said.

Contact Shamarria Morrison at smorrison@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


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