To the Editor:
The Planet sent a misleading message to the public by putting three recent articles on the top of the front page under the headlines “More payroll problems in school district,” “Payroll problems continue to plague school district” and “Personnel matter may have cost district its payroll precision” and by relying for its criticisms on a disgruntled former district employee who departed “under mysterious circumstances.”
The district just completed the first issuance of payroll and vendor checks using a software program widely used by other districts and a computer system operated by the Pleasanton Unified School District. This reorganization of the districts financial information and data processing system is critical to remedying what for years has been a highly unreliable payroll system and antiquated financial reporting system. The district is moving forward to making available reliable financial and personnel information to district management and the school board.
In a first round of any data conversion “glitches” will happen. That the new system ignored a zero at the beginning of a bank account number is hardly surprising and is easily remedied. So is a one-time miscalculation of payroll withholding taxes. This is not, as the former employee would have it, a “big mess.” The big mess was in the old system for which the former employee was responsible. It is incredible to suggest, as one article did, that the former data processing manager's employment ended because he was doing “too successful” a job.
School Board President Shirley Issle is right when she says that the public needs to give the district time to iron out the minor problems with the new system – but not quite as much time as the six months she suggests. The district's financial crisis does not permit six months of patience. If this system is not operating smoothly in three months, we may well have a new “big mess.”