Back in early May, when the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board was pondering budget cuts and we were trying to answer reader questions, Jeff Costa, the testing coordinator at Hopewell High, asked about new fingerprint-scanning time clocks being installed in schools.
"Several of us at Hopewell are curious how much CMS spent on the new time clock system," he wrote. "It has to be an extraordinary amount of money, not to mention how it will slow down productivity."
I forwarded the question to the public information office, and they sent it to the finance department. After many follow-up prods, the answer landed in my inbox last week: The MyTime system, which will track hours and attendance for 6,500 of the district's 18,000-plus employees, cost $2,177,866. About $1.6 million came from county money and the rest from federal lunch subsidies and meal fees. Most of the expense -- about $1.7 million -- landed in the 2009-10 budget and the remaining half-million in the current year.
The CMS memo explains the benefits this way:
• Minimize compliance risks by enforcing and tracking complex compliance requirements, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
• Improve workforce productivity by reducing manual administrative tasks
• Eliminate the possibility of keying errors that cause mistakes in employee paychecks
The system also uses Kronos software: In researching best business practices, CMS found the Kronos Workforce Timekeeper system to be in place by many organizations in the Charlotte area, including the City of Charlotte, Coca Cola Bottling, Family Dollar Stores, Carolinas Medical Center and Lance, Inc. Incorporating this best practice is one more step toward improving business operations and effectiveness.
Costa read the full memo but wasn't swayed.
"You should talk to some people who actually use it. There is no way this improves productivity," he replied. "$2.1 Million when you are laying off hundreds of teachers.. are you kidding me?"