Thursday, 15 April 2021 15:55

Summer pay switching for Richmond County Schools employees

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HAMLET — Employees of Richmond County Schools will soon be getting paid differently than they’re used to.

Finance Director Tina Edmonds told School Board members Tuesday night that it was a state decision and out of the district’s hands.

Edmonds said the district received a letter in February from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction stating that, as part of the statewide business system modernization project, the agency would no longer support the installment pay system, where employees receive 10 checks spread over 12 months.

The decision goes into effect July 1 with the new fiscal year.

“Installment payouts for this school year will actually end in July and August,” Edmonds said.

Traditional teachers get paid August through May with two installment payments in June and July, while hourly employees’ checks run from September to June, with July and August being installment months, according to Edmonds.

Local education agencies are required to implement the new installment process to meet the requirements of the general statute, which states that teachers be given an option to receive their 10-month pay in 12 monthly installments.

“Our current software system will not allow for us to do this internally,” Edmonds said. “They are working on a solution, but a solution is not something that I can see us being able to handle.”

After discussing the issue with other districts, Edmonds said that more than 16 will not offer an in-house option for installment pay, about seven are undecided.

Two systems — in Onslow and Wake counties — that have been providing the option for at least a decade, according to Edmonds.

Of the 632 employees currently participating in the state installment pay program, 538 (85.13%) use one of six financial institutions for their banking: State Employees Credit Union; BB&T; PNC; Local Government Credit Union; Fidelity Bank; and First Bank. More than half are with SECU. 

Starting July 1, employees will be directed to SECU — or the bank of their choice — which will allow draft or savings options for the summer months, Edmonds said.

“Now, with most of our employees already utilizing the State Employees Credit Union, we do feel this will be an easy transition for them,” Edmonds said. 

RCS employees can choose up to three bank accounts for their checks to be deposited in through direct deposit, which adds flexibility for them to set up summer cash or savings programs with their current bank or SECU, according to Edmonds.

She added that the district’s finance team will be visiting each school to answer questions “to try to make this a very seamless transition.”

All employees are eligible for the SECU plan, where they will earn interest on their money and, unlike currently, will be able to determine how much is set aside for the summer.

School Board member Bobbie Sue Ormsby said that if she was still an employee, she would have a lot of questions.

“I remember this was very important to all employees,” she said, adding that it almost happened 10 years ago.

Chairman Wiley Mabe said DPI’s decision was “unfair,” especially with such short notice, adding that local legislators knew nothing about it until they were told by school board officials.