Half of $2.2 million went to school facilities workers
D.C. Public Schools paid employees $2.24 million in overtime last fiscal year, including payouts of $37,000 to custodians and $28,000 to a gardener.
Nearly half of the 846 workers collecting overtime solely focused on school facilities -- custodians, maintenance workers, janitors and gardeners -- and these employees received the biggest checks, according to data from the school system.
|Top 10 DCPS overtime payments|
|Employee||Base salary||Overtime hours worked||Overtime payment||% of salary increase from overtime|
|David Dobbs, custodian foreman||56,097.60||985||$37,029.90||66%|
|Christopher Best, custodian foreman||$61,776||851||$36,323.12||59%|
|Richard Woods, Jr., gardener||$50,294.40||829.5||$28,636.17||57%|
|Tyrone White, custodian foreman||$50,564.80||780||$28,315.80||56%|
|Michael Anderson, custodian foreman||$34,840/$36,358.40*||849||$28,092.57||81%/77%*|
|Edward Neal, custodian foreman||$44,532.80||701||$23,026.40||52%|
|Gilbert Murray, special police officer||$37,415||841.5||$22,639.31||61%|
|Ernest Palmer, custodian foreman||$50,564.80||651.5||$22,626.64||45%|
|Elisha Green, custodian foreman||$41,288||705.5||$20,748.26||50%|
|Michael Cunningham, file manager||$36,397||954||$19,922.50||55%|
|Note: Payments from Oct. 10, 2010, to Oct. 8, 2011. Base salary as of October 2011.|
|*Discrepancy between which salary he received on school documents|
|Source: D.C. Public Schools|
One custodian foreman received $37,029.90 in overtime working 985 extra hours over the course of one year, increasing his salary by 66 percent. A gardener collected $28,636.17 for 829.5 in overtime hours, a 59 percent adjustment. Overall, 43 employees received overtime checks larger than $10,000.
"Do they sleep? Do they ever get any sleep?" D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown asked an oversight hearing of the school system, calling some of the top payments "just huge" and questioning how school construction is funded.
"That's like another paid [job] -- I guess my question is, would it be less expensive to actually have an additional person working?" Brown said.
Chancellor Kaya Henderson said the school system had to pay large overtime checks to ensure that schools undergoing construction would open in time for the current school year.
Of the gardener who received nearly $29,000 in overtime, Henderson said "it was at a school that had a total modernization, and there's significant green space that needed to be ready when the school opened," but declined to name the school.
A custodian who received roughly $19,000 in overtime works for multiple schools and travels between them, Henderson said. "That travel time is accounting for in his overtime."
Many DCPS campuses have received facelifts recently, as the mantra that students will be more empowered to learn in high-quality facilities has gained traction with D.C. officials.
Construction began on two new buildings at the start of the 2010-2011 school year, and this fall, Mayor Vincent Gray presided over groundbreakings for a new building for Dunbar Senior High School and a modernization for Cardozo Senior High School.
Brown said he plans to grill the Department of General Services Thursday on whether the schools are being given enough construction funds.
In the meantime, DCPS is double-checking some of its overtime figures, citing discrepancies among file clerks and business managers whose hours don't seem to match with their checks.
Ed Lazere, executive director of the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, said he didn't think that $2 million overall was egregious for a school system with well over 6,000 employees, but said overtime generally shouldn't increase salaries by more than 5 or 10 percent.
"I would think you try to staff yourself so your staff meets the needs you have, and in a school system were the needs are generally predictable, you would hope someone is monitoring overtime and flagging some of these cases," Lazere said.