Teacher Evaluation: WHY It Matters and HOW We Can Do Better
An in-depth look...
School’s back in full swing — and we’ve got a quick quiz for you!
#1: What percent of your district budget is made up of labor costs?
#2: What’s the average percent of errors made in payroll?
#3: How much did the Department of Labor collect in FLSA backwages in 2008?
#4: How much do districts spend on paper timesheets?
#1: Labor costs make up 70-85% of the average school district’s budget
#2: The average organization overpays their employees by 1.2%
#3: The DOL collected $140 million in back wages in 2008 due to FLSA violations
#4: Multiply your number of employees x number of pay periods x $0.03
Now that you know the answers, think about your school district. Are you overpaying employees due to payroll errors? Are you in compliance with FLSA? Are you wasting time, paper and money tracking, approving and calculating time?
With labor costs making up the majority of your district budget, knowing the answers to these questions — and ways to increase your savings — is crucial!
Here are a few of the ways districts are using automated time and attendance systems to cut labor costs!
To err is human, right? And according to the American Payroll Association, those errors in payroll translate into $120,000 worth of overpayment for every $10 million in wages. That adds up!
The good news? Electronic time-tracking systems eliminate much of the manual entry where mistakes can happen. From collecting and approving employee time, to calculating and processing payroll rules, electronic systems can eliminate up to 95% of payroll errors.
Owen Hurt, the Personnel Director at Sealy Independent School District, realized their previous time clock system, which was not Internet-based, allowed for significant human error.
“That was one of the biggest reasons for us to look for an Internet-based clocking in and out system,” Owen said.
He said they were concerned about the impact of these errors if they were to be audited by the Department of Labor, so they moved to an online system that makes it easier to share data with payroll and their absence tracking system.
One of the toughest challenges in managing your labor force is preventing unnecessary overtime. Without the ability to view schedules and track hours in real-time, districts often find out after the fact that employees went into overtime.
Jeremy Thompson, Superintendent at Era Independent School District, said tracking overtime was especially challenging because of the large number of employees serving in multiple positions across the district. They now use a time and attendance system that allows managers to check electronic timesheets throughout the week and monitor potential overtime situations.
“We now have that data in real time and can make those decisions during the week instead of finding out after the fact that they worked 42 or 43 hours last week,” Jeremy said. “It’s not always possible to eliminate the overtime, but we at least can make that decision now ahead of time, instead of after the fact.”
As any district that’s been audited can tell you, keeping in compliance with state and federal labor laws is nothing to take lightly. However, tracking all the unique and complex laws associated with K-12 can be a real challenge, especially without a tracking system and automated calculation of payroll rules.
According to the Department of Labor’s website, “more than 197,000 employees received a total of $140.2 million in minimum wage and overtime back wages as a result of Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violations” in 2008.
School districts are making sure they’re not caught off-guard by using a K-12 system that can track and apply specific rules based on your bargaining units, school district rules and state and federal regulations. Many systems can also help districts attach funding codes to employee time in order to track it against federal funds, such as Title I.
Time is money, right? And a lot of time sure is spent on labor management at the school district. Patti Polensky, Human Resources Director at Odyssey Academy in Texas, used to manually process the district’s paper timesheets.
“At the end of the month or the pay period, I would have to go find the teachers who forgot to complete their timesheets, so it took a lot of running around on my part,” Patti said. “Once I got the timesheets, I had to look at 70 pieces of paper, scanning each one, so you’re talking a half a day just flipping pages one at a time, making sure that I got the data right. And then I had to physically type that information, one employee at a time, into a spreadsheet and then send that spreadsheet to our payroll department, and they had to manually input it into our payroll system. It was crazy!”
That does sound crazy! That’s why Odyssey Academy moved to an electronic system, where employees now clock in right at their desks, supervisors approve the time with just a few clicks and send the data off to payroll.
If you’re trying to be more “green” at your district — and save time and money — take a look at your time-tracking process! Once you factor in all those timesheets for each employee each pay period, the amount of paperwork is astounding. Plus, you have to process and store the paperwork, probably in a big filing cabinet, which doesn’t make for easy tracking or reporting of the data.
Karen Mowbray, the Business Officer at Odyssey Academy, said tracking time and attendance manually was very paper-intensive.
“Sometimes the timesheets just ended up non-existent, so you had to have the employee recreate them or find them,” Karen said. “Now it’s all compiled into the computer, which makes it much easier for us.”
These are just a few of the ways districts are taking control of their labor budget and finding ways to improve efficiency and save time, even in the midst of budget cuts.
How is your district making labor management more efficient?