One hundred thirty-five Centralia School District teachers have been overpaid by a collective $240,000 due to an accounting error by the district, setting officials and teachers scrambling to find a way for the district to recover the money.
The district this week discovered that its accounting and payroll department overpaid into an insurance benefit program designed to reduce out-of-pocket costs for certificated teachers, according to Centralia superintendent Steve Bodnar.
Bodnar cited a "clerical error in the fiscal payroll department" that triggered the inflated paychecks. While there is no specific method for determining how each teacher is affected, Bodnar did say the most that was overpaid to one teacher was $2,900, while the lowest amount was $46.
Bodnar declined to comment on the exact nature of the error, or how it was initially discovered, saying the district discovered the snafu "early this week."
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"We have made corrective measures to ensure nothing like this happens again within our payroll department," Bodnar said. "But we still have a need to recover the money and we’re meeting with teachers as soon as possible to figure out a way to do that."
Bodnar said district officials are meeting with teachers to determine how best to recoup the money, and the district would work "quickly and efficiently" to recover the overpaid money. As of this morning, around 40 teachers had already met with district staff, including Centralia Education Association President Nancy Herzog.
Teachers and district officials, including Bodnar, have not come to an agreement on a way to recover the money as of this morning, but Bodnar said talks "would continue in earnest."
Bodnar declined to comment on potential disciplinary action or as to how many employees were involved in the initial error, instead stressing the need to bring the $240,000 back to the district.
"There is a duty to recover that money and we need to figure out a repayment plan of some sort," Bodnar said.