School W-2 forms contain a surprise

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The Kalispell Public Schools business office received multiple phone calls after electronic W-2 forms sent out Jan. 31 showed staff salaries at quadruple their correct amounts.

“The phone started ringing and the emails started coming in,” business clerk Gwyn Andersen said.

The forms were quickly corrected and re-sent within roughly a half-hour.

This is the first time the school district’s W-2 forms have been sent out electronically.

Since it was the first time using the software, the business office sought direct support from the software vendor and received some misguided directions that led to the mistake, Andersen said.

“We literally had the software vendor on the phone and they walked us through the steps,” Andersen said.

The discrepancy was a matter of an unrefreshed screen during the process.

Andersen said while fixing different issues, multiple files were created. When the computer program prompted them to “refresh,” Andersen said the vendor support representative said not to.

“So we didn’t,” Andersen said.

Before saving a final file, Andersen said a couple of the W-2s were spot-checked to make sure things were correct. They were because school officials were looking at the latest file, she said. But when they did a final save, unbeknownst to them, the software compressed four different files they had worked on.

“If we would have refreshed it, we would have had the latest file and it would have been correct.”

The business office printed hard copies as a backup. The hard copies were correct and sent out the following day.

“We weren’t sure how that [electronic versions] were going to go, so we did both,” Andersen said.

Andersen said the district will use the same software next year. She added that many staff members took the incorrect electronic W-2 versions in stride.

“People are framing them,” Andersen said.

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or by email at hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com.

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