Gilbert Public Schools Screwed Up New Payroll System – Employees Shafted

Under the category of we couldn’t possibly make up anything more ridiculous than what actually happens in Gilbert Public Schools: Add new financial problems to the 2016 List of Disasters. If we thought the Clown Car driven by Good Old Dave Allison was filled with incompetents and nincompoops, we ain’t seen nothing yet. Is it really just the second week of January? Sheeesh.

GPS employees are not getting paid on time, and they’re not getting paid the full sums that they are owed. Why? Because the new $1.3 Million Dollar Software that Superintendent Christina Kishimoto bought back in November 2014 failed. Who knows the answer to “Where have we seen this before?

Keyboard to Westie: Oooh, ooh pick me! I know the answer! GPS bought software costing $1.7 Million Dollars a few years ago and botched the installation so bad, they tried to blame the software company and sued them! GPS Top Dogs ended up with a lot of egg on their faces over that fiasco because they squandered so much time and taxpayer money and then had to start all over again, buy another software program and lose about $500,000 in settling the lawsuit. Do I get an A?

The GPS purchase of Infinite Visions software was a real mess from the beginning. One of our birdies wondered why, in November 2014, it suddenly was essential for the GPS Governing Board to approve a new $1.3 Million contract for new finance and human resources software. It was especially concerning that just the month before, in October 2014, the GPS Chief Financial Officer confessed that GPS had overspent by $15.3 Million and kept it a secret.

It took two board meetings to ram this new software project through. Board President Staci Burk asked CFO Jeff Gadd to provide the board copies of the underlying contract that GPS used through Mohave Educational Services (MES) Cooperative, Inc. (an entity through which school districts make big purchases without the regular bidding process).  President Burk kept asking for documentation of the RFP process – which ought to be on file.  CFO Gadd did everything he could to sidestep; he promised he had done his due diligence, etc.

Wrong! Due diligence is the board’s responsibility, and it’s a red flag of fraud that Jeff Gadd didn’t provide the simple documentation the board president repeatedly requested. No sireee, he gave the board something else: the generic contract presented to the board was the financing document from Kansas State Bank of ManhattanThere is so much here that doesn’t pass the smell test.

Gilbert Public Schools and Superintendent Christina Kishimoto could have recovered from their initial missteps with Infinite Visions software, but they did not. No way that would happen after golden haired boys GPS top level C-suite folks made presentations to the governing board about how gosh-darned HARD they were working on installing and implementing this software, including as recently as December 15, 2015. GPS went out and recruited new employees to work in the White Castle and get this project going. Dollars to donuts, those new support staffers were paid top dollar while loyal GPS employees waited patiently for Christina Kishimoto and her pet board members to DO SOMETHING for the long-suffering folks whose pay inequities should be the top priority for GPS, but we digress.

It’s not like GPS is the first employer ever to switch payroll software – why couldn’t they have worked out glitches BEFORE employees didn’t get their checks direct deposited? Do you think maybe it had something to do with the Superintendent’s *alleged* dalliances with her Executive Director of Technology, whose hardware system came into play for installing new Infinite Visions software? [No, Keyboard, we don’t know what games they were playing.]

OMG, watch your credit scores carefully! Gilbert Public Schools Executive Director of Technology, Charles Stevin Smith, also known as Sleazy Steve is still at work, and his department is responsible for designing a “new process and systems for identity management” for the screwed up payroll system. You folks who posit that Sleazy Steve Smith may have decided to take one for the team and resign because this HUGE technology project failed need to reevaluate. [This said with great derision because Sleazy Steve Smith’s resignation came immediately after the anonymous letter alleging his inappropriate relations with Christina Kishimoto was made public.] Sheeesh, we’re digressing again!

GPS put the burden on employees to figure out if the paychecks they receive are correct … but GPS wiped out historical data about what each employee used to be paid before they told employees to check their checks. The two Business Office honchos of the Infinite Visions payroll fiasco put out an email saying, “We have encountered a glitch…Unfortunately we do not have the resources to personally respond to each email about this matter.” Seriously, that was what they said when they could not pay GPS employees on time! In other words, “Pound sand, suckers!” Maybe they were trying to make things better by saying they would “research the issues” if employees fill out certain forms … as if they didn’t already know who should be paid what amount. Maybe they truly didn’t know, which is unforgivable for a government enterprise that employs thousands and has a budget of a Third of a Billion Dollars each year.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for any semblance of accountability. We have seen what passes for accountability for this payroll fiasco in GPS and it is a slap in the face to you loyal PROFESSIONALS who are on the front lines of education every day. Gilbert Public Schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said she’ll make everything all right, because, gosh darn it, “…our payroll staff in the Finance Department have done an AMAZING job of working through the glitches…” We know you won’t believe it til you see it, so here it is.

Showing just how much Superintendent Christina Kishimoto cares about you loyal GPS employees, she helpfully wrote a letter that you can take to your bank in case those big old meanies in charge of the nation’s mega-banks do something really awful and charge you for overdrafts resulting from your payroll check not being deposited. Don’t you feel better now? The biggest employer in the Town of Gilbert (including employees from surrounding cities and towns) fails to make their payroll, and Superintendent Christina Kishimoto thinks the banks will be sweet and understanding and wipe out the outrageous fees that banks charge when your checks bounce.

It speaks volumes that Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and her sidekick CFO Tom Wohlleber think GPS employees might get one little-bitty overdraft charge as a result of their staff’s incompetence in failing to pay thousands of people properly. One overdraft charge! And they’ll get around to figuring out a bureaucratic process for reimbursing employees long, long after the charge has totally screwed up bank accounts, mortgages, rent, student loan repayments, credit card auto-pays and credit scores. There, there, GPS will give you back the “service fee resulting from the payroll transition” as if the banks will make one *unfair* charge and leave it at that. Maybe that’s a way of life for Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, who hob nobs with community leaders like bankers, who would NEVER, EVER mess up the bank account of someone pulling down a cool Quarter of a Million Dollars a year.

You all know that overdraft charges cascade and multiply, because one missed deposit causes many screwed up transactions. The writing is on the wall: GPS will probably, someday, get around to reimbursing you employees who insist on being reimbursed for nefarious deductions from your bank accounts because GPS screwed up their first payroll of the year in such a spectacular way. Just show them Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s letter when they come to evict you from your house.

Wait ’til we start hearing about how their taxes are screwed up because GPS couldn’t figure out how to pay their employees on the first pay period of the first month of a new year, most likely because GPS Top Dogs wanted a two week vacation right before payroll was due. Anyone want to wager that maybe the superintendent’s *alleged* boyfriend, the dude who got a $10,000 raise while other GPS employees had their salaries frozen (according to the anonymous letter writer) managed to be paid on time? Same bet for those other Top Dogs and Fat Cats in the GPS White Castle. Sheeeeesh.


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