District works on pay snafu

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District works on pay snafu

Hornbeck said much remains to be done to fix a new system that didn't pay some workers and vendors.

2 more assaults at Bartram High _A teacher and an assistant were attacked by two students in unrelated incidents at the Southwest Phila. school. Head Start change has upset many _With the city school district in charge, former teachers have lost jobs. Parents and children are unhappy, too.


Philadelphia School District officials say they are making progress on resolving payroll and vendor payment problems but still have a way to go.

At a news briefing yesterday, Superintendent David Hornbeck said that "regular check" employees who have had problems with their pay received correct checks this week.

And, he said, the district has paid and resolved issues with 28 of the 50 vendors that had cut off service to the district.

"We continue to work on a daily basis" to work out problems with the remaining 22, he said. Fourteen of the 22 are book providers, Hornbeck said, but he noted that the district has more than 100 book vendors that continue to supply schools.

A district team will work again this weekend on the problems, he said. It will be assisted by a team of eight workers from American Management Systems Inc., the provider of the district's new $26 million payroll, purchasing and human-resources system.

The district has had problems with payroll and vendor payments in recent weeks as it makes the transition to the new system. In addition to causing some employees and vendors to go without being paid, the district incorrectly paid several hundred thousand dollars to former employees, including eight people who were deceased.

The school board last week ordered the administration to do whatever it takes to fix the problems swiftly.

Hornbeck said additional problems have been uncovered in the last week, affecting the pay levels or deductions of a couple thousand employees. He said these are being corrected.

Last week, the district's chief of staff requested that employees provide a list of any computer-related problems. Of the 750 issues so identified, more than 300 already have been resolved, Hornbeck said.

"If anyone does have a payroll problem, we want to know about it immediately," Hornbeck said.

He said any employee with a payroll problem should notify his or her supervisor, who should fax the complaint to district workers who can address the issue. Also, American Management Systems is manning a hotline today from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. to take payroll complaints from employees. That number is 215-299-5511.

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers officials say the district has made progress, but problems remain.

"We think that the district has come a long way," said Barbara Goodman, spokeswoman for the union. "But we are going to remain vigilant in watching to make sure that payroll problems are dealt with promptly, properly and fairly."

Some employees received more money than expected in this week's pay, and others did not receive their direct deposits as they should have, she said.

"We still are finding people who are simply not in the system," she said.

She said the union is not planning any legal action at this point. "We're going to work within the system," she said.

-- Homer Beanfang (Bats@inbellfry.com), November 03, 1999

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