If a Manatee County school employee needs to go on sick leave, he or she currently has to get a manager to sign a piece of paper, which then makes the rounds to multiple offices for approval or rejection.
But, if things go as planned, beginning July 1 that employee, along with roughly 7,000 fellow School District of Manatee County workers, will be logging into “employee self service” on a new district-wide integrated software system where the leave request automatically is sent to the employees’ supervisors.
I told them I won’t vote for a penny more. We do need it. We have to get out of the stone age.
School board member John Colon
The new system also will allow employees to access their pay stubs online, change their automatic deposit, enroll in benefits, schedule vacations, change their addresses and scores of other services, said Amanda Brameister, interim business systems director for the school district.
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“The system we have been using is antiquated,” Brameister said.
While it has school system officials excited, the new “enterprise resource planning,” or ERP platform, is not cheap and not quick to install.
School board members learned that at Tuesday’s school board meeting when they were asked, and unanimously agreed, to approve an extra $4.25 million to finish the project and replace a system that has been in place since 1999.
Board members complained Tuesday that the cost of the project has increased nearly 100 percent since it began, but they are all still on board.
“I told them I won’t vote for a penny more,” school board member John Colon said.
“We do need it,” Colon added. “We have to get out of the stone age.”
Back in March 2016, the board was told the system would cost $10 million and would require 11 months to complete the upgrade.
But, now the final tab is $19.3 million and will require 28 months, putting the “go live” date on July 1, 2018.
During the workshop Tuesday, Robert Malloy, Brameister and Valerie Smith, ERP experts employed by the district, gave board members a positive update and promised the project won’t produce anymore unwelcome surprises.
“One suggestion to consider would be weekend workshops,” board member Scott Hopes advised the ERP experts, noting that early training on the system will alleviate system shock. “Let’s see what it would cost our employees to attend. From my evaluation today, I think it will be far more effective if staff not be encumbered by their day jobs while training. I think it will require carved out time and remuneration. To hit this target we will need this resource out there.”
School board member David Miner said he heard there were already some issues with payroll on the software already in use.
Mallory agreed with Miner that there were bugs to work out.
“That is a fair statement,” Mallory said.
Pat Barber, president of the Manatee Educational Association teachers’ union, said after the workshop that she wants to wait and see how the system works before passing final judgment.
“We do need an improvement on data,” Barber said. “The system we have now is not really a system anymore.”
“I think they will like it,” Brameister said of the users. “It will be like going to the ATM or doing their banking on the phone instead of having to walk into their bank.”