Four months of school staff getting paid too little, too much or not at all has left Hawke's Bay principals at their wits' end with the new payroll system Novopay.
The new Ministry of Education system has been riddled with issues since it was launched in August at a cost of more than $100million to taxpayers by 2018.
Maraekakaho School principal Phil Jones said at his school of 158 students, 14 full-time staff and five casual staff, issues included teachers and support staff getting underpaid and overpaid, leave not being deducted correctly and errors from August still not remedied.
"Every time there seems to be a problem," he said. "When my staff don't get paid, I just write a cheque so no one goes without. That comes from the school's operations grant so, in terms of our year's accounting processes, they are going to be completely out of whack. I have no idea what state we are in."
Associate Education Minister and Tukituki MP Craig Foss agreed the issues were unacceptable and was meeting local principals today to discuss the problems. "There have been ongoing errors and we have ongoing concerns," he said.
Talent2, the Australian company contracted to create Novopay, had been told it was "totally unacceptable," Mr Foss said. "We fully understand the school's concerns and have been as frustrated as them."
Mr Jones said the issues were causing stress at the end of the school year. "Because of Novopay I am not getting a lot of time to spend with the kids during their last week of school and this is a small operation. It shouldn't be a difficult operation for us. I actually feel sorry for the bigger schools."
Hawke's Bay Primary Principals Association president Rohan Pearse said not only was he dealing with issues of his own at Mahora School, but he was taking calls daily from other principals in the region.
"I am fielding numerous calls from principals every day about how to fix errors," he said. "It's a serious, serious concern.
"At the end of the day, the Ministry of Education is the employer and must pay their employees correctly. The concern also for schools is that there has been a significant number of extra hours put in by the payroll staff, and the extra payroll hours will affect staff budgets.
"At the moment I am just trying to support all schools and we are all trying to focus on celebrating the end of the school year on a positive note, and from a staffing angle it's extremely difficult."
Mr Jones said concerns were mounting as the holidays approached.
"The ministry needs to do something, we can't be expected to put other things aside."