by Joel Rubin,
In addition, teachers and other employees are flooding the district with requests for meetings to resolve payroll discrepancies.
Since the new payroll project launched in January, technical glitches and human errors have wreaked havoc on the district, leaving tens of thousands of teachers and other employees with errors on their paychecks. David Holmquist, the district's interim chief operating officer, said he was "cautiously optimistic" that no new problems would surface this month.
In letters sent last month, the district alerted employees to how much the troubled, computerized system had allegedly overpaid them. The district set a Nov. 26 deadline for workers to decide whether to repay the entire amount they had reportedly received, repay only the amount they believe they were overpaid, or refuse to pay anything. Employees were also warned that if repayments were not made by Dec. 10, they would also have to repay additional money withheld by the district for state and federal taxes.
But district officials have decided they can push back the deadlines and still have enough time to issue end-of-year tax forms. Employees must now decide by Friday how to proceed, and they have until Dec. 17 to make any repayments.
In an effort to lower the number of contested overpayments, the district forgave those of $250 or less and credited $250 to all other employees who pay by the deadline. They also struck an agreement with unions to automatically recoup any remaining overpayments of $200 or less from this month's paycheck.
That left about 15,750 employees with unresolved cases. So far, slightly more than 10,000 of those people have responded to the district, with about 60% of them deciding to pay the amount the district had calculated, Holmquist said. About 2,400 others are contesting the district claims and refusing to pay some or all of the amounts demanded, he said.
Those disagreements won't be discussed until next year, when district and union officials can set up a resolution process. But by then the district will have paid taxes on overpayments, and employees will be faced with the prospect of seeking refunds for themselves from tax agencies.