GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — Emails released between state officials show that Gaston County Schools administrators were advised to not transition to a payroll system that has led to missing paychecks and retirement funds.
North Carolina Representative Kelly Hastings (R-110) revealed emails between him and Eric Moore, North Carolina General Assembly Fiscal Analyst, that show partially what led to payroll issues impacting Gaston County Schools.
The email chain begins on Thursday, Sept. 8 when a concerned employee reached out to Hastings asking for help with the payroll issues at the school district.
Hastings then was briefed by Moore about North Carolina's School Business Systems Modernization policy that went into effect in 2017. Under this system, Moore says school districts had the option of switching to approved modernized software payroll systems.
The SBSM policy was not mandatory, however, any payroll system transitions had to be approved by the State Board of Education.
Moore stated in the emails that Gaston County Schools chose to implement a new payroll system in January against the recommendations of state officials. Since this change, Moore says complaints have been made about the system since February.
CherryRoad Technologies and Oracle operate the payroll system. WCNC Charlotte has requested comment from both companies previously and they have not returned emails.
School employees staged rallies in September demanding the district fix the problems.
In an effort to address the issues, the district has hired a full-time Oracle coordinator, hired a consulting firm, and created a customer service center to be more responsive to complaints.
Gaston County Schools officials say they are trying to fill vacancies in the payroll department to help tackle the pay issues.
While teachers were pleased with the district recognizing the severity of the problems, some said they were hoping for more answers from the meeting.
"There just didn’t seem to be a clear outline of how to fix the issue," teacher Sherry Willis said.