Waste, Fraud, & Mismanagement

San Francisco School District Spends $30 Million on Payroll System That Doesn’t Work


The San Francisco Unified School District board voted March 15 to allocate an additional $5.1 million toward fixing the school district’s payroll system, San Francisco Examiner reported March 15, noting that this brings “the total cost of the troubled software to $30 million.”

Less than four months ago, the board approved $8.8 million to fix bugs that have resulted in thousands of teachers and staff not receiving accurate paychecks since the system was launched in January 2022.

Superintendent Matt Wayne, who took the job several months after the system was launched, and several school board members said they share the public’s frustration with the system, but view the additional spending as necessary.

“The reality is, we have to pay our educators and staff until this is stabilized,” Board Member Lisa Weismann-Ward said. “There are no other options. Not approving this puts us in a position where folks will endure significant harm.”

Candi Clark, chief executive officer of an organization that provides financial consulting to educational agencies, told the board that there are 43 “essential positions that we need to have in place to continue to move forward with this system,” but hiring has been a challenge for many reasons.

“A lot of it stems around trying to find individuals willing to come and work for the district,” Clark said.

The district needs more staff with experience in business services — specifically payroll, human resources, data testing, case management and system support — to fix the payroll system.

“The $5.1 million should help facilitate that, according to the contract between the San Francisco Unified School District and Infosys Limited, the company that implemented the EMpower system,” the Examiner reported. “Clark warned, though, that the ‘pool for talent is thin.’”