Payroll problems affect up to 20% of staff in new system

Thomas Chesy

With around 900 district employees being either under or overpaid since the start of the Spring 2016 semester, the long-awaited replacement for many of the San Diego Community College’s aging business systems has gotten off to a rocky start.

The upgrade itself, which utilizes Oracle Corporation’s PeopleSoft business-management software, is slated to replace a majority of the services used by both faculty and students by the Summer 2017. Chancellor Constance M. Carroll addressed the payroll issues in a memo sent to district employees on March 10.

Carroll’s lengthy message began with an apology to affected employees, more than 20 percent of the district staff, and then proceeded to explain the cause of the problems. Carroll blamed them on human error at the district level ranging from “late documentation” to ‘”coding errors”’ rather than any problems inherent with PeopleSoft.

Only days prior to Carroll’s explanation, Jim Mahler, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Guild 1931, painted a far grimmer picture in an email sent to faculty:

“…The volume of problems is so large we can’t keep up,” he wrote on March 7. “The scope of this problem is huge– possibly affecting every single employee in the District in some way.”

Of interest to SDCCD students will be the replacement of Reg-e for a PeopleSoft solution, to which, Carroll closed her memo cautioning that there may be more problems down the road for future upgrades and replacements, which according to the District Administrative Systems Master Plan from 2010, are expected to cost approximately $20 million.

“A transition this major will inevitably have problems. The important fact is that the problems have been noted and corrected and will continue to be corrected as they occur.” Carroll said.

Jack Beresford, Director of Communications and Public Relations at the San Diego Community College District, however, made it clear that transitional issues would be worked out well before Reg-e’s replacement. Reg-e currently hosts both student enrollment as well as financial aid information, and is expected to go online by the Summer of 2017:

“…the District is committed to resolving these types of issues prior to implementing the student records portion of Peoplesoft,” Beresford wrote in a March 16 email.

Kelly Mayhew, AFT vice president for City College faculty, first raised the payroll issue at a meeting of the district’s board of trustees on March 10. She said she was pleased with the chancellor’s explanation, but urged the district to be more careful as it begins the monumental task of transferring information pertaining to tens of thousands of current students from Reg-e to PeopleSoft.

“What I hope is that they will take their time in its implementation in order to work things out before it goes live. From what I heard, they’ve started doing that,” Mayhew said.

In 2015, the district served 71,213 students at its three campuses and in Continuing Education, and employed 4,760 people.