Wake County school employees renew push for biweekly paychecks

Elaina Athans Image
Wednesday, February 21, 2024
WCPSS considers moving payroll to twice a month
Wake County Public School System is considering a potentially pricey change to the frequency it pays its employees.

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Wake County Public School System is considering a potentially pricey change to the frequency it pays its employees.

Willie Vick has been entrusted to drive Wake County students to and from school every day for the last seven years. He loves his kids, but the job is a challenge when it comes to paying the bills.

"As a bus driver, it's hard to really, really do 100% with your job not knowing that when you go back home your lights could be off, your water could be off. It could be an eviction notice for those that have rent," he said.

Vick wants a paycheck every other week. Until that happens, he's working a second job.

Vick is not alone. There's a growing push to change when bus drivers, safety assistants and cafeteria workers -- who account for roughly 6% of the total staff at WCPSS - are paid. Right now, their checks hit bank accounts once a month.

The process to change payroll frequency is more complicated than just flipping a switch.

There was a lengthy, and at times heated, discussion on this topic at Tuesday night's Wake County School Board meeting.

Several board members were frustrated that the change wasn't any closer to becoming a reality.

"It feels like we're dragging our feet to them," said Wake County School Board Member Monika Johnson-Hostler. "It feels like I'm letting people down for something we said we would move last year and we're now saying it could potentially be January of 2025."

Wake administrators explained that the district would need to buy a different software system and hire more staff.

"I think that we have to do better," said Wake County School Board Member Tyler Swanson. "Moving to a new system does require a lot of money on the front end. but the risk and the rewards are, in my opinion, worth it at the end."

The Wake County Chapter of NCAE has been fighting for the paycheck change for years.

President Christina Spears said it's important to get it done right and quickly so WCPSS doesn't end up in a situation similar to Durham Public Schools.

DPS has been dealing with a series of sick outs over a pay dispute since January. The sickouts even forced the school district to cancel classes on several different days.

"That would be terrible right," said Spears. "Our payroll is not up to 2024 standards and what we could be doing for our employees."

The Wake County School Board plans on taking up the issue again at its second meeting in March.