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$16 million error means teachers will likely receive smaller pay increase than promised by Winston-Salem/Forsyth Schools
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$16 million error means teachers will likely receive smaller pay increase than promised by Winston-Salem/Forsyth Schools

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Local teachers and some other school employees will likely receive a smaller increase than scheduled in their supplemental pay because of a calculation error of about $16 million, Superintendent Tricia McManus said Thursday night.

“Because of that calculation error, the amount approved was roughly $16 million dollars above what was budgeted for local increases,” McManus said in a message to the certified staff of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. “It was a significant calculation mistake.

“I join our finance and human resources teams in sincerely apologizing for the mistake, and I regret the formula error was not captured before the salary schedules were made public,” McManus said. “I never want to give misinformation and false hope, especially when it involves your compensation.”

On Dec. 14, the board of education approved salary increases for teachers and certified support staff, including counselors, psychologists, social workers and others.

Under the salary plan, first-year 10-month teachers on the bachelor’s schedule would have received $8,200 annually in local supplements, the school district said in a news release.

Now that the calculation error has been discovered, school administrators will present an updated salary schedule Tuesday to the board of education, McManus said. The school board will look at the school district’s budget and decide what the new local supplement will be, she said.

“While it likely will not be as high as the amounts portrayed in the previously approved schedule,” McManus said, “as we have said from the beginning of this process, we are committed to ensuring a significant supplement increase for our staff.

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“The goal of our proposal will be to minimize the gap between what was published in December, and what is more in line with the amount of money available for supplements,” McManus said.

The proposal will include a minimum average annual supplement increase of $1,800, McManus said. It will vary depending where employees fall on the supplemental schedule, she said. The beginning teacher annual supplement would be a minimum of $6,400, McManus said.

“Again, while not has high as what was previously approved, this supplement increase will be greater than in years past,” she said.

McManus said that school officials have reorganized the teams managing and monitoring compensation. “We have implemented a new four-step process to check all salary formulas and calculations before they are made public and before presenting to the Board of Education for approval,” she said. “With these new, lengthy checks and balances in place, it will allow us to avoid this in the future.”

Tripp Jeffers, a history and philosophy teacher at Parkland High School and the former president of the Forsyth County Association of Educators, said Thursday night that he was concerned about the error.

“Someone on staff made an unforgivable mathematical error of $16 million,” Jeffers said. “But that is a drop in the bucket of the federal dollars received in COVID relief funds.

“The school board can make this right ... to fulfill the promise they made to their teachers in December,” Jeffers said.

McManus encouraged certified employees to follow the school board’s process in responding to the error.

“It is no secret that educators are severely underpaid,” McManus said. “While I have little control over state and national funding, I can continue finding local ways to add to our WS/FCS educator pay. I promise to keep this a priority.”

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@jhintonWSJ

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