Tangipahoa Parish School System employees will receive a paycheck this week despite the district’s payroll system being disabled during a recent cyberattack, but it will be limited in that it won’t include scheduled pay increases, including the recently-approved Legislative increase implemented across the state.
The school system was subject to a crippling cyberattack two weeks before school began, in late July, and is still dealing with the impacts in classrooms and the central office. The attack disabled the online bus mapping system, parent-to-school communication, servers and networks, among other facets.
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Officials still could not say as of Tuesday night how much the cyberattack would cost the district financially, but the finance committee did approve a proposed cyber insurance policy that would cover $2 million in damage in future attacks. The full financial impact of the cyberattack is expected to be finalized before the board's September meeting.
The cyber insurance policy, which is relatively rare in its nature, officials said, would cost the district a $13,872 premium with Westchester Insurance to cover a one-year period. It would specifically not cover any costs associated with the current cyber incident, but would cover similar events in future.
The board’s finance committee approved adopting the insurance policy, but the measure will go to the full board at its September meeting to be finalized.
Assistant Superintendent Ron Genco elaborated on payroll issues, saying teachers will receive the same paycheck for August as they did in July, so it will not include any year-to-year step increases, additional expenses owed like those for conference or travel fees, or the legislative pay increase afforded to teachers at this year’s session.
Genco said the district has been using the same payroll software since 2008 and was able to recover some basic disc-based versions, but the district doesn’t have access to the complicated spreadsheet system that tracks each employee. New employees who were not in the system in July will receive 75% of their gross income, minus 25% for taxes and other withholdings.
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A paper form will be sent to each school to track employees and payments, and the district expects to reimburse employees the difference between their August paycheck and what they should’ve received in coming months once the system is reconfigured.
“We know there will be some mistakes but we pledge to make sure we get every every penny that’s owed to them as quickly as possible,” Genco said.
Mike Diaz, director of educational technology for the school district, told the board that the IT department’s staff had reimaged more than 10,000 computers, had manually booted more than 500 network switches and is in the process of setting up permanent server infrastructure.
A temporary help desk has been put in place to field the roughly 400 technology-related requests that have come in from teachers and other staff, and the district is “going a little old school”, Diaz said, by implementing an offsite and offline backup system in the future.
“This has definitely been a roadblock for us but I think my people have done a fantastic job of getting us to the point we’re at now,” he said.
Both Diaz and Genco garnered a round of applause from the board and audience — many of them teachers — for their efforts after the attack.