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‘Embarrassing, unacceptable and disrespectful:’ Teachers detail ‘unprecedented’ payroll backlog


Thousands of BPS educators have not been accurately paid, district employees say, and they are fed up with waiting.

“My three colleagues and I have collectively been teaching in Boston for 70 years, but our experience and expertise appear to mean nothing as we now have to fight to be paid in a timely and accurate manner,” Condone Elementary teacher Monique Bynoe said. “If BPS continues to treat its employees this way, there will be no employees left.”

Bynoe said she’s been waiting on a stipend payment for seven months now, one of a mounting bottleneck of overdue BPS payments.

The extensive payroll issues fall into several categories, the largest being the backpay promised in Boston Teachers Union’s new contract agreed to this fall. Under the contract, all over 8,000 members of the union are owed backpay reflecting the contract’s wage increase over the first two and a half months of this school year.

After the contract was approved in October, the pay date was slowly pushed to Jan. 20, Up Academy teacher Caroline Jones said, and pushed again last week to an “optimistic” deadline of Feb. 17.

“We were told that the district is working hard, but the staffers are required to do the work manually,” said Jones. “We were also told that the payroll staffers are even working nights and weekends to expedite our retroactive pay. This timeline for me and the BTU members is really embarrassing, unacceptable and disrespectful.”

Because of the magnitude of the union, Superintendent Mary Skipper said Wednesday, the understaffed Office of Human Capital (OHC) has had logistical difficulty distributing the large-scale back pay.

School psychologists and family liaisons were also hit with a wave of payroll issues when fiscal responsibility for the positions was transferred between BPS departments during the budget process last year.

“Up to today, most of our pay stubs show errors,” said school psychologist Hani Murad on Wednesday, noting colleagues who’ve had issues applying for loans and delayed medical procedures while major errors have impacted their pay.

A handful of educators also brought forward payment corrections ordered by arbitrators months ago and their difficulty communicating with the district.

All in all, the pileup of payroll issues is “unprecedented,” said BTU President Jessica Tang. According to a document tracking issues logged with the OHC, Tang cited Wednesday, there were 197 issues in school year 2018-19, 174 issues in 2019-20 and 201 issues in 2020-21.

Last school year, the number spiked to 315, and in just five months of the current school year, there have already been 345 issues logged with the department — already more than any previous school year on record.

In the immediate future, Tang argued, the OHC and payroll offices need to be audited and the lowest paid employees need to receive retro-pay before mid-February.

“We really need to make sure the district and city does not allow this ever to happen again,” said Tang. “If we want to attract and retain educators so our students have what they need to succeed, we have to begin by treating them with respect.”

District officials at the meeting questioned how much money is owed and steps forward.

“These are major problems, and it’s shocking to hear the urgency of our situation — being unable to pay folks on time, but also the amount of time that folks are spending trying to get that pay,” said School Committee member Brandon Cardet-Hernandez at the Wednesday meeting.

Skipper noted the issue would be discussed by a district team Thursday and offered to present more information at the next school committee meeting.

“Let’s just be clear, our district should be able to do this,” said Skipper. “There are clearly things that have to be fixed.”


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