Polk County teachers face school board payroll issues

Hundreds of teachers in Polk County were missing a paycheck last Friday morning because of a payroll issue with the school board.

It’s bad news for anyone when a paycheck doesn’t come, but educators say it’s especially hard for many teachers here in Florida, who are already struggling with the lowest teacher salaries in the country.

Sandra Sylvert teaches math at a Lakeland high school. Last Friday, she was on her way to an oncologist while she was waiting for her paycheck.

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Due to payroll delays, she couldn’t pay for the doctor’s visit, awaiting results about her cancer diagnosis, and said she had to ask her brother for the money as the school board worked on the issue.

"I was at negative $7. I have auto drafts that go through on the days that we get paid, so it was at negative seven. I have a co-pay of $50 for the specialist, and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to pay it," said Sylvert. "For the district to seem so passive about our pay, when we seriously really depend on that just to be able to live… I feel completely disrespected."

The Polk County Superintendent said in an email to employees that day: "There is simply no excuse for the number of errors we have had to date. While errors may occur, each prior event should have served as an indicator to ensure that errors don’t repeat and that we are proactively reviewing every aspect of our process to catch any possible future issues."

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The email went on to list several ways they plan on addressing the problem.

The checks were deposited later Friday afternoon.

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