A state audit found North Carolina's community colleges routinely allowed employees to take extra paid holidays.
State employees usually get 12 each year, but the report from State Auditor Beth Wood's office says 31 of North Carolina's 58 community colleges went above that standard in the last fiscal year.
That does not break any rules because there is no system-wide policy. Each campus' board of trustees gets to decide.
The auditor said that lack of guidance led to excessive holidays at some campuses like Central Carolina Community College, where workers got 23 paid holidays in the last fiscal year. The report said that amounted to "pay[ing] employees $862,424 for days they did not work."
But in a letter responding to the audit, the chair of Central Carolina Community College's board of trustees, H. Julian Philpott, Jr., said he believed employees earned the extra days off with pay.
"The additional holidays were offered to CCCC employees as a means of rewarding their outstanding work and commitment to the college," Philpott said. "We are a top performing college in the nation, and it is the work and dedication of our employees that makes this possible."
Philpott added the college could not provide extra compensation through salary increases last year. He said the extra holidays amounted to a 4.2 percent raise for each employee.
"We did not hire additional staff or reduce responsibilities for any employees when the additional holidays were added," he said. "Employees were required to complete the same amount of work in fewer workdays."
Leaders of the community college system agreed with the auditor's findings, and said it was not good policy to allow campuses to offer more paid holidays than the state's standard.
"They're not pleased that this has happened. For whatever reason that it did happen, their focus is on correcting it," said system Spokesman Brian Long.
Long said members of the Board of Community Colleges intend to write a rule that limits paid holidays to 12 at their meeting next month.