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Spinglass Audit Results Shared

The Spinglass Management Group has completed its audit of the Portland Public Schools’ payroll practices and issued a report.

The group’s report recounts many of the payroll challenges that the district has already shared since the beginning of its payroll issues this fall: problems with underlying systems, staffing and processing. The report also details significant strides the district has made to stabilize systems, enter into an agreement with ADP Inc. to outsource payroll functions, and increase payroll staffing. In addition, it outlines the work the district continues to do to address the impacts from the pay issues of this fall and resolve outstanding concerns for some individual staff.

The full Spinglass report is available on the Payroll Information and Updates page on the PPS website. The district received the report on Jan. 31, the deadline set in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that the district agreed to with its collective bargaining partners in December. Once the bargaining units received the report, they requested the district hold off on communicating about it until they had a chance to review it and to communicate with their membership directly.

The report summarizes major areas of focus of the Spinglass review as well as detailed exhibits documenting specific issues. The district continues to work with Spinglass to finalize the remaining tasks as outlined in the conclusion and to negotiate with its collective bargaining partners the resolution of penalties, overpayments, and other issues.

The report notes that the challenges the district experienced with the underlying systems, staffing, and processes coincided with the implementation of the terms of new contracts with its two largest collective bargaining units. These issues led the district to have to rebuild much of the core payroll system and solidified the district’s already planned commitment to transition to a third-party payroll service provider, ADP.

The district has made significant strides in stabilizing its current core system, MUNIS, and has signed a letter of agreement with ADP. An official launch meeting with ADP is scheduled for this week, with the goal of a full migration to ADP by Aug. 1, 2023. The district’s payroll staffing has also improved: The district has two full-time payroll specialists as of this week and continues to have temporary support for the payroll manager position while it finalizes a permanent hire.

However, as the report indicates, there is significant work still ahead for the district to address the impacts from the pay issues of this fall and to continue to resolve individual outstanding concerns. The Spinglass report identifies instances where penalty payments are due based on stipend and retro payments per the MOU. It also identifies a set of overpayments that were made during this time. The district is in discussions with its collective bargaining partners to resolve both of these concerns. The district also is working as quickly as possible to resolve all remaining individual pay issues.

The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest school district, with approximately 6,500 students, and is also the most diverse. About one-third of the district’s students come from homes where languages other than English are spoken—a total of more than 50 languages. 49.8 percent of the district’s students are white and 50.2 percent are students of color. Approximately half of PPS students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.