San Francisco Chronicle

SFUSD to vote on spending more to fix payroll fiasco

- By Annie Vainshtein Reach Annie Vainshtein: avainshtei­n @sfchronicl­; Twitter: @annievain

The San Francisco Board of Education will vote Tuesday on whether to spend another $5.1 million to try to fix a new payroll system that’s left thousands of school district employees shortchang­ed on paychecks, lacking health benefits and furious at the lingering problems.

The $5.1 million is on top of $2.8 million set aside last year to pay outside experts to resolve the hundreds of issues with the $14 million payroll system, which the district rolled out in January 2022.

The money comes after officials declared an unpreceden­ted state of emergency in November over the issue and announced the launch of a 60-member command center to help fix the fiasco. It also comes as the district struggles with budget challenges, a teacher shortage and declining enrollment.

The new funding would make way for the school district to fix 66 known system defects and implement 20 new workaround­s within EMPowerSF, the district’s payroll system that replaced an old paperdrive­n payroll process.

Almost immediatel­y after it launched, the new system generated thousands of errors that were “bigger and more complex” than the district had expected, The Chronicle reported.

Since November, more than half of the pending cases have been resolved and 65 “unique root causes of payroll issues have been identified,” according to a statement from the district.

Officials have also increased payroll staffing and assembled a team of 34 case managers to aid with payroll support.

“In spite of having reduced the number of tickets by more than half since we started in November last year, we know that progress cannot happen fast enough,” Superinten­dent Matt Wayne said in a statement. “This is especially true for our staff who have been impacted. As an educator, I am motivated to stabilize the system so that we can do right by our employees.”

District officials have not responded to questions about whether the original vendor providing the EMPower system, Infosys, bears any responsibi­lity for the payroll debacle. District officials have only said they plan to do a “thorough after action review to better understand what happened.”

The special board meeting comes just days after district officials admitted that they failed to file three quarterly wage reports to the state in 2022, which could further delay tax returns and refunds to teachers and employees who have already been burned by the new system.

District officials did not confirm whether that mistake was related to its use of the new payroll deduction system.

All of the district’s more than 9,000 employees were notified that their tax returns could be complicate­d by the mistake.

 ?? Brontë Wittpenn/The Chronicle ?? Superinten­dent Matt Wayne says he is motivated to stabilize the payroll system to do right by employees.
Brontë Wittpenn/The Chronicle Superinten­dent Matt Wayne says he is motivated to stabilize the payroll system to do right by employees.

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