CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A carpenter in Kanawha County schools made more than $48,000 in overtime pay within the past year. A painter made $46,000. That's more than an average teacher in West Virginia's largest school system earns in base salary in an entire year.
As the Kanawha County school system investigates allegations of widespread theft and illegal purchasing in the district's maintenance department, dozens of the maintenance workers are racking up millions of dollars in overtime pay.
This year, Kanawha County schools paid more than $1 million in overtime pay to 86 maintenance workers in the department, according to payroll records. Some workers only were paid $300 or $500 in extra pay, but the majority racked up tens of thousands of dollars in overtime, in many cases doubling their regular paychecks.
"This is absolutely not acceptable," said school board President Pete Thaw. "We're not going to let something this egregious stand. We're going to look into it immediately."
William Koenig, a carpenter, topped the list in department overtime pay this year, earning $48,577. That's more than his salary of $39,515, meaning he'll round out the year making more than $88,000. In the past decade, Koenig earned almost $240,800, according to records.
As a point of comparison, the average base pay for a teacher in Kanawha County was $45,700 last year.
David Simms, a painter, also took advantage of overtime opportunities this year. He made almost $46,000 in overtime, supplementing his regular salary of $41,942.
And they're not the only ones cashing in big on overtime.
This year, 39 workers in the Kanawha County maintenance department have accumulated more than $10,000 in overtime pay. Twenty-one of those workers have made more than $20,000 in overtime.
That's all in addition to their regular salaries, which average about $37,600 this year.
The workers in the maintenance department are earning record amounts of overtime pay as the school system is in the midst of a sweeping investigation looking into allegations of rampant theft and misappropriation of funds within the department.
"There's always something going on in this maintenance operation," Thaw said. "Whether it be larceny at Crede or abusing overtime, we're going to fight it."