A processing error shuffled Spring ISD’s employee effectiveness incentive payments so that some teachers received too much; now the district is asking teachers to pay the amount back by December.

What happened: Employees who received a $2,000-$5,000 stipend during the 2022-23 school year were either overpaid by $1,500 or $3,000, said Kristen Cobb, SISD’s director of communications, in a March 24 email. This stipend was awarded based on teachers’ years of experience, according to SISD’s website.
  • Teachers who were overpaid were notified March 20 and are expected to repay the funds over 19 paychecks through Dec. 24.
  • Teachers who were underpaid for the stipends received the remaining amount they were owed March 10.
How we got here: Internal auditors discovered a “sorting error” during processing while evaluating the Teacher Effectiveness Incentive Program, Cobb said.

“As a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars, we must recoup any funds that are incorrectly distributed, as is the case in this instance. We deeply value our employees and are working closely with them to resolve this issue, keeping in mind their individual financial needs and circumstances,” Cobb said.

The impact: During a board meeting March 21, SISD teacher Kirsten Uecker said she knew of 46 teachers who were impacted by the error. Uecker said she understands “mistakes happen” but wishes the district had been more transparent and given teachers more prior notice before asking for repayment.

“By the nature of these awards, this is happening to the best teachers in the district, which is causing frustration for them,” Uecker said. “So instead of feeling rewarded by these incentives, they actually feel penalized.”

The details: If an employee has “extenuating circumstances” concerning the Dec. 24 deadline for repayment, they can contact payroll to discuss their concerns, Cobb said. Since a file sorting error overpaid and underpaid employees, the mistake will not have a net financial impact on the district, Cobb said.

What’s next: SISD leadership is working to ensure similar mistakes do not happen in the future, Cobb said.

SISD will be holding a special meeting at 7 p.m. March 29 to present a report concerning the stipend program. Members of the public will be allowed to address trustees concerning items on the agenda.