Shelby County teachers were notified Monday, due to the school merger, they won't get their first check under the new unified school system until Aug. 16.
"I'm not happy with it, employees are not happy with it," said Shelby County Education Association President Sammy Jobe.
With school starting in less than two months, Jobe said it's not enough notice for teachers.
"I myself, we have our bills planned on what we've been paid for a number of years, and all of the sudden we won't have that paycheck," he said. "Single parent families will really be hurting 'cause that's their only income."
Here is the change: the new unified system is expected to adopt the Memphis City Schools pay schedule, which pays teachers only for time worked. Shelby County teachers were paid ahead for days they had not yet worked. The adjustment won't be easy because Shelby County teachers will get their last 2012-13 school year check on July 19. Normally their next check would hit on Aug. 2, but under the unified system they will get paid on Aug. 16, almost a month after their last check.
"I'm just hoping they'll put it off for one year and give the employees a year to adjust," Jobe said.
He's not alone in his frustration at how the change in payroll is being handled. School board member Kenneth Whalum says the plan is just poor timing.
"The timing is just bass ackwards," he said.
Whalum says board members knew last year the issue of combining the payroll for MCS and Shelby County was on the table, but the administration chose to wait, giving teachers less than two months to adjust. Whalum says as everyone waits to see the administration's final decision on handling payroll, he reminded teachers to "hang in there."
"Hang in there, do what you do," he said. "But isn't it a shame that the professionals that are paid to educate our children and the professionals that are paid to clean up behind our children and to keep the schools in good running order in terms of facilities, are the ones who get the short end of the stick in terms of professional treatment? It doesn't make sense to me."
In a letter Monday afternoon, interim superintendent Dorsey Hopson said the school district has a plan has been worked out to make sure Shelby County Schools teachers and other employees will not miss any paychecks when the two payroll systems merge.
As promised, we have devised a workable solution to address the concerns created by the recently-discovered need to harmonize our payroll systems. Although the solution is not perfect and will require additional administrative oversight, it is designed to mitigate potential hardships on our employees.
Effective July 1, legacy SCS teachers and legacy SCS 10-month salaried employees will be paid over twenty-seven (27) pay periods instead of twenty-six (26) pay periods. No pay periods will be missed, and the first paycheck issued to these legacy SCS employees by the unified district will be August 2. At the conclusion of 2013-14 fiscal year, all employees' pay schedules will be harmonized. At that time, all employees will be placed on a twenty-six (26) pay period schedule.
This remedy is only available to, and necessary for, legacy SCS teachers and legacy SCS 10-month salaried employees. These are the only employees who would have missed an entire paycheck due to the harmonization process. The original payroll adjustment option communicated to teachers and 10-month salaried employees last week is no longer necessary or available.
Thank you for your patience as we address this and other merger-related issues. We are diligently working under difficult circumstances to ensure that all aspects of the merger are timely implemented. Please know that we are making very good progress on the overwhelming majority of merger-related issues, and we will be ready to open schools in August.
As we work continue to work toward the merger, I cannot guarantee that other difficult issues will not surface. However, I can guarantee that we will be transparent about any problematic issues, and we will work to resolve all concerns in a fair manner.
Again, I thank you for your patience and understanding. A set of payroll harmonization FAQs will be provided to all employees later in the week for further clarification.
Dorsey E. Hopson II, Esq. Superintendent