GASTON COUNTY, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Gaston County Schools employees are working hard serving food, driving school buses, and teaching.

The one thing many have not been doing is getting paid.

“When I got off the phone with the bank and he said I don’t have anything,” added one teacher. “I said oh I’m sure I’ve got an email from the county explaining what’s going on, nothing.”

“Honestly, I am really frustrated,” said another employee. “It’s been hard going into work some days just knowing that I haven’t gotten paid.”

Queen City News is concealing the employee’s identities out of fear of retribution.

The payroll problem started when Gaston County Schools switched payroll systems. Hundreds not receiving checks, according to the North Carolina Association of Educators.

“When there is no communication,” said a representative when referring to emailing the district. “It just causes chaos and that is exactly what happened.”

The issue has been ongoing since December 2021, three months with no check or half a check. Some are barely surviving, and others are thinking of walking off the job.

“Luckily, I have some good friends and a good family that has helped support me,” added a first-year teacher. “It’s unfortunate because I do have a career.”

A spokesperson with Gaston County Schools released a statement saying the new Oracle payroll system created ongoing challenges which the district is trying to correct.

Gaston County Schools processed more than 4,300 paychecks in this week’s payroll.

Employees are scheduled to receive retroactive pay for any unpaid time, excess deductions, or unpaid longevity, if applicable.

The spokesperson further writes, the district is processing “off-cycle” payroll which they anticipate will correct close to 225 outstanding payroll errors. Employees won’t believe that until a deposit is made in their account.

“If you can’t trust getting your paycheck,” said an employee. “Then there is no way you can trust anything else that they are saying.”

Statement from Gaston County Schools given to Queen City News:

“The payroll portion of the new Oracle business management system has created ongoing challenges for us, and we regret that some of our employees have been adversely affected.  While we anticipated having some issues with the transition to the new system from the previous system that was 30 years old, we did not expect ongoing problems.

We understand the importance of employees being paid accurately, and we are committed to addressing all issues to ensure that employee paychecks are correct.  Funds are available to pay employees – we are not withholding pay on purpose, and our staff is working diligently to identify, address, and correct issues in the system so employees are paid.  We are working each day to make the system better, but it is a process that cannot be fixed instantaneously.

After running the January payroll, we experienced approximately 1,000 inquiries/questions regarding payroll.  With the February payroll, the number of inquiries/questions decreased to about 200 (as of close of business on Thursday, February 24).  While it is encouraging to see the decrease, we know there is still work to do to correct errors/issues.

For the bi-weekly and monthly payroll that ran this week, we processed more than 4,300 paychecks.  In this week’s payroll, employees are scheduled to receive retroactive pay for any unpaid time, excess deductions, or unpaid longevity, if applicable.  Also, stipends, supplements, and miscellaneous bonuses, if applicable, are scheduled to be paid this week.  (I know the various types of pay classifications can be confusing.)

Today, we are running what is called an “off-cycle” payroll to help correct issues that have been experienced this week.  We anticipate this “off-cycle” payroll run will help correct some 225 outstanding errors.  Staff is working to address other outstanding errors related to employee payroll information that is not transferring correctly in the system as well as errors related to employee voluntary deductions.

In March, retroactive pay for employees is scheduled to be paid.  This payment is retroactive pay for July 1, 2021 through December 31, 2021 that is a result of salary/pay increases in the state budget.  Most of our employees will receive this retroactive pay because they were employed during this time frame and qualify for the salary/pay increases that were approved in the state budget in November.

I hope you find this information helpful. We understand why some employees are upset and frustrated, and we want to reiterate that our staff is putting much time and effort into resolving the issues.”