Touchet teachers get paid

The checks were supposed to have been issued Dec. 18.

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TOUCHET -- Touchet School employees received their pay at 12:01 a.m. today, when electronic funds were deposited into employees' accounts, according to an e-mail from Cathy Plucker, president of the Touchet Education Association.

According to the teachers' contract with the district, December paychecks should have been issued the last working day of the month, on Dec. 18.

The TEA executive board met with Superintendent Dan McDonald on Tuesday to discuss the delay.

District fiscal coordinator Elaine Turner, who was hired to provide business services for the district Nov. 20, explained the payroll process with the TEA board.

Although McDonald initially told district employees in an e-mail that the late paychecks were due to a "glitch" in the system, he said Tuesday the problem was not with the Washington School Information Processing Cooperative. The cooperative provides information processing services to the district.

In an e-mail statement McDonald said the delay occurred because "the right information was not known at the right time ... This is not a reflection of our financial position, but an untimely, unplanned and unfortunate delay."

Plucker and other TEA board members visited the US Bank and the Walla Walla County Treasurer's office following their meeting with McDonald to learn how electronic deposits are handled.

They learned a warrant for the amount of electronic deposits was deposited Dec. 22 in US Bank and cleared Dec. 23.

Because both paper checks and electronic deposits were dated Dec. 30, most employees were unable to access funds until today.

Plucker said in an e-mail this morning that a number of questions remain unanswered, including who made the decision to change the payday to Dec. 30, and why.

Plucker also asked why there isn't provisions to do a supplementary payroll to correct mistakes, "instead of asking employees to wait another month for their pay, as has happened several times to people who are coaching, advising, driving bus, etc.?"

TEA representatives and the district will meet next week to discuss a grievance related to the problems created by the late paychecks.

The grievance covers only certified employees. Other employees do not have a union.

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