Fifty-five staff members within the Oxford Community Schools were each paid between $200 and $800 extra throughout the course of the 2015-16 school year due to a human/systemic error, according to district staff.
The salary schedule within the district builds in “steps” with automatic pay raises going to teachers based on their years of experience and earned graduate degrees or academic credits. The overpayment occurred because 55 staff members were incorrectly entered into the 1 percent gross pay raise sector of the schedule.
Nancy Latowski, assistant superintendent of human resources, explained the error was recently discovered by human resources while reviewing staff information and they are working to rectify the matter.
According to Latowski, the district will work with staff to ensure the pay adjustments will not negatively impact them. Overpaid staff will have their paychecks reduced throughout the remainder of the contract period to meet their annual salary, but it will be up to staff to decide how they will distribute the remaining balance over the final eight paychecks.
“We’re working through this on a personal basis with the teachers and it will be based on their personal situations how they will see the adjustments in their pay,” Latowski said. “We’ve talked about the various ways to spread it out over the school year and didn’t want to make it a hardship on our employees. Our school district has a lot of great employees.”
The adjustment of salaries will total $31,836. The district manages approximately $26 million in payroll annually.
Jim Gibbons, president of the Oxford Education Association, said because the increase in pay was applied to the employees’ gross salaries, the difference had not been large enough to be noticed by teachers.
“(The salary schedule) is a complicated system. I look at it and say a mistake was made. They are working to fix the mistake and it’s unfortunate, but (the employees) were overpaid and the district is trying to rectify the situation as best as they can. There was no malice involved here,” Gibbons said.
According to Latowski, tax money will not be used to make the salary adjustments.
“(This mistake) is regrettable, but we want to be sure we don’t use taxpayers’ dollars in the correction process. We have an obligation and responsibility to use taxpayer dollars correctly,” she said. “We will not allow those dollars to go towards correcting a salary mistake. Those dollars go towards our students and their education. We have a fiscal responsibility and we take that very seriously.”
Most of the adjustments will be completed by the end of the contract year in late August, according to Latowski.
The remaining staff will have their annual salary reduced in the 2016-17 school year to make up for the increase in salary in the current year.