Palm Beach County school bus drivers and custodians cleaning up in overtime

Full overtime report can be found at the bottom of this page.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- In America's 11th largest school district you'll find 187 schools, more than 170,000 students and, right now, the Palm Beach County school district's budget is a bold $2.5 billion dollars.

"We are the largest employer with over 21 thousand employees, so the numbers are big on everything we do," the school district CFO said.

The Contact Five Investigators discovered a list of employees who earned a large amount of money for working overtime last year--283 thousand hours worth of time at a cost of $6.5 million dollars.

"It certainly seems to me like someone should be looking at this a lot more closely," said the president of the Classroom Teachers Association.

So who led the way? The Contact 5 Investigators found out it's the transportation department and bus drivers like-- Denise Moss. Moss alone worked 662 hours of overtime-- taking her salary from $26,000 ($26,591) to well over $45,000 ($45,447.57)-- earning more than a teacher with a master's degree and more than a decade of experience.

"To be able to make more than a teacher, that's going to roil teachers quite a bit, when they hear that news," said the CTA president.

The Contact Five Investigators have found no proof Moss hasn't earned every penny she made last year since union contracts allow bus drivers to get OT jobs based on seniority-- which Moss has after more than 2 decades behind the wheel.

"Sometimes it's more cost effective to pay the overtime than to hire additional drivers," said Michael Burke, school district CFO.

But while drivers navigated their way to more OT than any other department districtwide--The Contact Five Investigators have learned other employees got a bigger paycheck for OT. In fact, 73-year-old Danilo Oliu-- a custodian at Gold Coast School in West Palm Beach, may clean the halls, but he also cleaned up in overtime-- working more than one thousand OT hours last year.

There's no reason to believe he didn't earn every penny of the money that helped move his modest $31,000 a year salary to a much more impressive $56,376.22. Last year the custodian made $20,000 more.

"I don't even know what to say, I feel like crying," said Courtney Kolb -- a teacher with a 4 year degree-- and not eligible for overtime. "I didn't even know they paid overtime to anybody, this is the first time I'm actually hearing of it. It looks like you're better off being a custodian in the school district than a teacher," said Kolb.

"I think there's room for improvement with anything, and we're working towards that," said Michael Burke.

Burke is the money man for Palm Beach County Schools. "Our OT has dropped 34% from $9.6 million to $6.5 million -- that's less than one percent of our payroll and new measures are constantly being unveiled to keep OT costs down," said Burke.

For the first time, the transportation department is working on a plan to hire full time trainers-- instead of paying drivers like Denise Moss overtime. "I don't think it's ever going to completely go away-- I think transportation is where we'll have the biggest struggle," said Burke.

A struggle that means money for thousands and frustration for thousands of others like Courtney Kolb. "We fought so much for the funds and are told time and time again, there's no funds and yet we're paying people overtime," said Kolb.

While federal law prohibits teachers from earning overtime-- district leaders say teachers can make extra money picking up second jobs tutoring after school. As for overtime,  the three employees earning the most overtime work in the school police department where one security systems technician earned $30,000 dollars-- just in overtime last year.

You can check out the numbers for yourself. Click here to view an overtime report which details the employee name, position, department, number of OT hours worked and the dollar amount for 2010 and 2011.
 

Print this article Back to Top

Comments