Some Poway Unified School District non-teaching employees have racked up several years’ worth of vacation time beyond what they’re allowed.
It has become an estimated $6 million liability as of June 30, said Poway Superintendent Marian Kim-Phelps.
The former superintendent of the district, John Collins, is facing criminal charges in part for cashing out so much vacation time above what he was allowed.
The highest balance belongs to a maintenance supervisor with 238 days accrued, or at least nine years’ worth of accrued vacation benefits if given the usual 26 days per year, according to district documents obtained by Voice of San Diego through a California Public Records Act request. The second highest balance belongs to an administrative assistant in the personnel office with 185 days.
The district’s internal controls over vacation time were found lacking in two different audits over the last year, and Collins was fired, in part, for allegedly cashing out vacation time he wasn’t entitled to, including some he may have already taken. Prosecutors last month charged Collins with four felonies for misappropriating public funds. They accuse him of abusing vacation, sick and other leave time, as well as the district credit card. Collins has pleaded not guilty.
Now, new district leadership is zeroing in on vacation problems.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
This problem is easily taken care of. All that needs to be done is to pay off the accrued vacation time AT THE PAY RATE IN USE WHEN IT WAS EARNED, WITH NO INTEREST.
Paying off accrued vacation time, at the pay rate at the time of retirement, is too much of a bonus to charge the taxpayers.
Here's a suggested set of rules to handle this situation:
1. Under no circumstances will unused vacation time increase a person's pension.
2. Vacation time accrual is limited to twice the person's yearly amount and any accrual beyond that is paid off on the date the excess accrual occurs.
3. At retirement, all vacation is paid off as part of the final paycheck.
@Bill Bradshaw I'd add a #4: discipline supervisorial personnel who don't do whatever it takes to facilitate the ability of employees to take vacation time, from finding people to cover to checking their negative attitude toward employee vacation requests.
When I worked for the County of San Diego, I accured so much vacation time I had to be cashed out regularly in lieu of taking it. I had no backup to fill in for me, and my supervisors did not show any concern about me getting time off, quite the opposite. How many administrators at PUSD are doing the same to employees, wthout the regular payouts? Forcing employees to bleed off a vacation day a week is a punishment. The work of non-teaching staff will simply be held aside until their next work day. This is the opposite of what vacation time is supposed to provide: an actual break.
There's an easy solution to the excessively accrued vacation time: Use it or lose it. Receiving 26 days each year is very generous. That amounts to over five weeks. The whole reason for vacation pay is to take time off from the routine of work and relax. Otherwise it turns into a way to spike the pension benefits. The decision to not take vacation then forces to employee to make the choice of taking time off or lose the accrued vacation time after a reasonable period. Did the school district have this policy and not enforce it?
@Gerald Sodomka Yes. Managers are only supposed to carryover 1 year worth https://www.powayusd.com/PUSD/media/Board-Images/BoardPolicy/Article4/BP-4-408.pdf. And classified are only supposed to carryover 2 years' worth /https://www.powayusd.com/PUSD/media/Board-Images/BoardPolicy/Article4/BP-4-309.pdf
@Gerald Sodomka When I was a government employee, I had no backup. Sometimes public agencies run so lean (as taxpayers expect) there isn't anyone else to step in, particularly in a senior role like mine. They preferred to cash me out and so did I, since the overload when I returned negated the whole purpose of vacation. I assure you it wasn't a pension spike. Unless there is a significant shift in management philosophy, actual 'I'm gone from the building and unavailable' vacation time remains a quaint notion at a lot of employers including public service.
This is confusing. The first sentence states that the accrued vacation time is, "beyond what they're allowed." The third sentence says Collins' accrued time is "above what he was allowed."
What's allowed? In a separate article on Collins there is a statement that the limit is 60 days.
Is that the case here as well? I think that's worth mentioning. From this article alone it's very difficult to determine if the problem is that there's no limit at all, or that there's a limit that's not enforced. It's hard to work up that thick lather of anti-public-school fervor without having easy access to the pertinent facts.
@GK Collins' vacation time in his contract was different than the policies in place for other employees, but internal controls over vacation time for everyone have been found lacking in recent audits. Here's the 1 year max for managers https://www.powayusd.com/PUSD/media/Board-Images/BoardPolicy/Article4/BP-4-408.pdf. And here's the 2 year max for classified /https://www.powayusd.com/PUSD/media/Board-Images/BoardPolicy/Article4/BP-4-309.pdf