SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Several Springfield Public Schools workers are making their voices heard about changes the district is making to how they pay hourly employees.
As of now, the district uses what is called ‘annualized pay’.
“It takes the money they earn on the days they work and spreads it out evenly over a 12-month period,” Deputy Superintendent Dr. John Mulford said. “We’re moving away from that for next school year, and what that means is we’ll no longer be holding that 30% out [of their checks]. Instead, we’ll be giving all of that money to the employee up front.”
This change means non-exempt hourly workers, such as custodians, nutrition workers, paraprofessionals and more would be paid for only the hours they work in the nine-month school year, provided they don’t work summer school hours.
It’s a change from how the district would take that yearly salary and stretch it across a full year, ensuring a paycheck for workers even when school is out.
Workers reached out to KOLR10 to say this change would affect them negatively.
“It is taking away income because, between our taxes and our benefits and our retirement, it will put us in a different tax bracket,” Sarah Kelley said. “Those of us that qualify for food stamps will no longer qualify during those nine months and then have no accessibility to them during the summer months. Those of us who have children on disability could lose our disability benefits for our children.”
“I don’t know a single person so far that I’ve spoken with that thinks this is a good idea,” Deb Howard said. “We have mandatory breaks like spring break, Christmas break, winter break, and we won’t get paid for those.”
Dr. Mulford says the change has been welcomed by employees and even potential new hires.
He says the change makes sense at this time as the district transitions to a new HR and payroll system.
“It benefits the employee, and it gives them control over their finances,” Mulford said. “We do believe that this change will help. We’re hearing from many of our current employees as well as potential new employees is that they don’t want the annualized pay model. They want to be paid the money when they work it, and they don’t want to be forced to have money withheld from their check.”
Workers say if the potential worries come true, it’ll have effects on staffing.
“I know a lot of people in my position that are going to have to quit,” Howard said.
“When you live paycheck to paycheck, you don’t budget, you don’t save money,” Kelley said. “When the electric bill goes up $300 dollars, you pay that $300.”
Dr. Mulford says if anyone has concerns, they should communicate with district administration.
“If an individual has a special circumstance, come sit down with us individually and at the end of the day, we do want to take care of the employee and assist them,” Mulford said.