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Network outage at Portland Public Schools delays staff pay, cancels some classes

The district said it expected all staff to receive their paychecks by the end of business on Friday.

PORTLAND, Maine — Staff at Portland Public Schools said a network outage lasting several days delayed their paychecks on Friday.

The network outage hit the Central Office late on Wednesday, according to district communications manager Tess Nacelewicz. 

Not only did the outage force the district to shift Portland High School and King Middle School to remote learning, but it also led the district to cancel school at Reiche Elementary and East End Elementary, since those students do not have their own assigned computers.

"The district’s phone and intercom systems are tied to the network. Without access to the network, the schools cannot communicate internally in case of emergencies," staff wrote on the district's News page.

The outage also affected payroll, Nacelewicz said.

"Direct deposits for staff members begin hitting by early afternoon and should come through by the close of business today, Friday, Nov. 18, which is a regular payday," she wrote in an e-mail.

The Portland Education Association, a union representing teachers in the district, sent an e-mail Friday afternoon, claiming the delay in payment is not a new issue only related to the outage.

"[P]ayroll problems have been ongoing since late October when the new teacher contract went into effect. While it appeared the problems were being dealt with, the Portland Education Association has now learned more employees have not been properly paid," president Kerrie Dowdy wrote in an e-mail.

The PEA is an affiliate of the Maine Education Association. The MEA plans to contact an attorney "to deal with the pay discrepancies and with any bank fees that have burdened members as a result of the payroll problem."

The union also called on the district to communicate more and be more transparent.

When asked if the payroll delays dated back to October, Nacelewicz wrote, "Most of our staff have now gotten paid today, and we’re fixing mistakes as fast as we can."  

NEWS CENTER Maine asked to interview Dowdy but has not yet been told of her availability.

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