Payday promises (computer payroll problems) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


Payday promises

Teachers will get $$, apologetic Dave says

Daily News Staff Report

Schools Superintendent David Hornbeck had a couple of apologies to make yesterday.

First, he apologized for remarks by another School District official that blamed secretaries and principals for most of the massive computer screwup that denied employees paychecks and caused other crippling problems.

That caused a virtual "war" in the district last week as the secretaries vigorously defended themselves.

Hornbeck also apologized for rushing the new computer system into action without sufficient testing.

In hindsight, Hornbeck said after the meeting, he would have started the computer modernization in 1995, rather than 1997.

"There were tests, but not enough," he admitted.

Apart from that, Hornbeck assured members of the school board at its meeting yesterday that everything is going to be great come Friday.

Which means that school workers, suppliers and contractors will no longer be test guinea pigs for the new computer system by week's end.

School District officials told the board they worked through the weekend to correct problems associated with the controversial $26 million system.

Meanwhile, the president of the union representing school principals and mid-level district supervisors is asking for a City Council investigation of the computer system.

Michael Axelrod, president of the Commonwealth Association of School Administrators, said he sent a letter to Council President Anna Verna requesting the probe.

He noted that the project's cost over the last two years has risen from about $10 million, to $13 million, to $26 million. "A $13 million cost overrun seems a bit much," Axelrod said.

Axelrod was one of the most outspoken defenders of the secretaries and principals last week when Herbert Kaufman, the district's director of employment operations, said the system had faltered because those responsible for putting data into it didn't do it right.

Whatever happened, the system failed to pay hundreds of employees, or didn't pay them enough, paid people who had retired or died, and stiffed about 50 vendors, including book suppliers.

After the meeting, Hornbeck said all district employees will get a paycheck Friday.

He said he is sending a memo to school workers apologizing for Kaufman's remarks.

In a briefing to the board, Herbert Schectman, acting executive director of financial services, said he had received some 650 written payroll complaints last week, affecting 900 workers.

Schectman said they included problems with the new payroll system and previous outstanding complaints.

District workers were working through the rest, and had corrected 298 problems by the end of the week, he said.

A team assembled by Schectman worked through the weekend to correct a variety of problems.

A total of 3,020 workers will receive adjusted paychecks Friday.

Schectman acknowledged to the board that people overseeing the computer project hadn't always kept their eye on the ball.

For insurance, the district plans to hire six temporary workers for the next six months, at a cost of $70,000, to catch up and keep up on payroll and bills, he said.

Failing that, the district is ready to give out handwritten checks within one day of a complaint, Schectman said.

In other business at the board meeting, board president Floyd Alston, 74, announced his retirement, and Hornbeck proposed a multiyear budget which predicts a $55 million deficit this year.

-- Homer Beanfang (, October 26, 1999



Another good spotlight. At first blush, it doesn't look like a huge matter, but the Devil is in the Details. Late start. Not enough testing. Going manual in hopes to get a handle on it. This seems to be the classic sort of thing that has been predicted, all over the place starting now, getting worse in November, worse yet in December, and who knows how bad in January. All over the place.

-- Gordon (, October 26, 1999.

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