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GEA Posts Open Letter to Geneva Citizens

Geneva Education Association members' letter hopes for compromise, but criticizes tone of the District 304 e-mails and says board "failed to show meaningful movement."

The Geneva Education Association members have posted an open letter to the community in an effort to share their reasoning about ongoing contract negotiations and the intent to strike notice the GEA submitted Friday.

Geneva School District 304 on Wednesday issued an e-mail and press release notifying parents that schools will stay open in case of a strike, which could take place as soon as Nov. 9.

Both sides said they were hopeful of a resolution during Friday's 12-hour negotiating session. But the GEA letter to the community says it filed the motion "after our mediation session failed to show meaningful movement from the board."

The salary issue is not the only issue preventing an agreement, but it has been a key sticking point in the negotiations.

You can read both sides' offers on the GEA website and the Geneva District 304 negotiations webpage. Each use different language to describe the offers on the table Friday. Here is a synopsis, combining language from both sites:

SCHOOL BOARD OFFER

  • A salary freeze for all teachers in year one, except those who qualify for lane movement due to additional education;
  • A 1.65% increase for all teachers in year two;
  • a 2.75% increase for all teachers in year three.
  • Those teachers who qualify for lane movement due to additional education will be allowed to move as many lanes as they qualify for in year one, and one lane in years two and three. (A 2.65% salary hike for each lane up to a master's degree; more than 5.3% after a master's degree.)

GEA OFFER

  • A salary freeze for all teachers in year one, except for those who qualify for lane movement due to additional education.
  • A 2.65% step increase for all teachers for the first half of year two. Plus a .66% step increase in the second half of year two. 
  • A 2.65% step increase for all teachers for the first half of year three. Plus a .66% step increase in the second half of year three. 
  • A base salary increase of .5% ($198) in year two
  • A base salary increase of .5% ($199) in year three.
  • Unlimited lane movement in all three years.

 

Here is the letter posted by the GEA:

An open letter to the citizens of Geneva from your teachers,

 

For the past eight months the Geneva Education Association (your teachers) and the Board of Education have been working to negotiate a new contract for our school district. This past Friday after our mediation session failed to show meaningful movement from the Board, the GEA filed its 10-day notice of intent to strike. The teachers are open to continued negotiations at any time with the Board. We are concerned about having to wait 10 days for the next tentative mediation session. Many of us live in this community and know the pain an event such as this would cause. We are writing this to share our reasoning with you.

• Our district has a healthy reserve fund of more than $30 million. This is surplus funding that is available for the district’s use. We believe a portion of this money could be used for a time like this in which the district should be attempting to maintain a competitive level of professional compensation and working conditions with surrounding districts and paying off debt from building schools.

• Chicago Magazine recently ranked four Geneva Schools as the Best Public Schools in Kane County. Geneva High School is ranked as one of the top 25 high schools in the state. Geneva Schools have the highest ACT, and ISAT scores in the Tri-Cities.

• Geneva is one of the few districts in the state that is abating money to its taxpayers. Abatement is the use of surplus finances from the education fund to pay off debt so the Bond and Interest Tax Levy is lowered for taxpayers. Your teachers support the idea of abatement when fair and equitable, but are opposed to the idea of abatement at the expense of staff being asked to accept salary freezes. Last year our district abated $3.2 million from the education fund. This year the budget is slated to have a $3.15 million surplus in the education fund that could be abated back to taxpayers. Your teachers have never put a proposal on the table in these negotiations that would prevent the district from abating money to the taxpayers.

We’ve been trying to balance the board’s demand for a full year hard freeze of salaries with their expected concessions on working conditions issues that have yet to be agreed upon. Should you think that your teachers have not been willing to compromise and work with the board in these tough economic times please consider the following:

• Even though the district could afford a three-year contract for its teachers, without any salary freezes, we have offered a proposal with a 1⁄2 year freeze in our final posting on October 19th. In mediation sessions since our final posting your teachers have offered two different proposals that have addressed the Board’s need for a freeze longer than a 1⁄2 year.

Recently our Superintendent and Board have been using Geneva304 mass email to tell their version of these negotiations. We disagree with the tone of these emails and want to make it clear that the assertions in them are solely the opinion of the board. We would prefer to speak for ourselves and encourage you to visit our web site to hear what your teachers have to say. We appreciate your taking the time to consider our thoughts and encourage you to keep them in mind as you continue to review the public postings of the offers from the GEA and the Board. They are posted online at:

www.gea4students.org

Our hope is that we can find a compromise that is fair to students, taxpayers, and teachers. We hope you will consider contacting the school board to ask them to settle this contract now.

The Members of the Geneva Education Association www.gea4students.org

==

Related Articles

 

  • Reports: GEA Members Authorize Strike; Nov. 9 Earliest Possible Strike
  • Geneva Teachers Express Frustration Over Stalled Negotiations
  • UPDATE: Geneva School Board Calls Special Meeting to Discuss Teacher Negotiations
  • Is a Teachers' Strike Possible in Geneva? Green Buttons Show Solidarity on First Day of School
  • Patch Poll: How Much of An Increase Should Geneva Teachers Get?
  • Batavia Teachers Get Raises in New Two-Year Contract; Geneva Still Negotiating
  • Where Do You Stand on the Geneva Teachers' Union Negotiations?
  • Geneva Teachers Expected to Picket Before Tuesday School Board
  • State Teachers Union Announces Geneva Talks at Impasse
  • UPDATE: Geneva Teachers Union Posts Its 'Final Offer'
  • District 304: GEA's 'Final Offer' Calls for 18% Salary Hike in Final 3 Years Before Retirement
  • Teacher Talks Resume Friday; Here's the Timeline If an Agreement Isn't Reached
  • Geneva School Board's 'Final Offer' Made Public
  • Geneva Teachers Give Notice of Intent to Strike
  • School Board: Union's 'Rigid Stance' Kept Parties Apart for Months; GEA Responds
  • Patch Poll: Which Offer Is More Fair to Teachers and Taxpayers?
  • UPDATE—Geneva School Board: GEA Filed Intent to Strike While Sitting at Negotiations Table
  • Geneva School District Outlines Plans in Case of Teacher's Strike

 

Want to stay up to date on the negotiations issue?

Bob McQuillan November 05, 2012 at 03:20 AM
Now lets look at the GEA's claim that their average salaries are one of the lowest in the area. They claimed that Batavia & St. Charles paid higher average salaries. When it was pointed out that St. Charles was actually lower, the claim changed to lower starting salaries. Those numbers were from the 2010-2011 school year. Lets see what a difference a year makes. According to the NIU School Report recently released, the average salary for Geneva teachers was the 3rd highest of the 8 Kane County districts. Only Batavia & West Aurora have higher average salaries. Please see the attached pdf file. Why the difference? Because Geneva compared salaries to district's that were not in the same contract years. Usually the salary increase late is a contract is higher than the earlier years. The 2011-2012 are the last year of the Geneva contract thus their average salary increases were larger than some other district's. It was to the benefit of the GEA to use the 2010-2011 salaries when comparing against other districts. The 2011-2012 average salary of $75,078 stacks up nicely against other local districts. The teacher/pupil ratio are also very favorable to Geneva.
Max November 05, 2012 at 03:38 AM
Let's be clear that the Amendment would require a 3/5 majority to INCREASE benefits, not merely to change them. Voting to _decrease_ benefits is _not affected_ by the wording of the proposed Amendment. Full information is here: http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Illinois_Public_Pension_Amendment,_HJRCA_49_(2012) The anti-amendment case as laid out at the URL above has several amusingly irrelevant points, and some which actually support the pro-amendment POV. The anti- Amendment cause depends on the inattention of the voters. VOTE _FOR_ THE AMENDMENT TO REQUIRE A 3/5 MAJORITY TO INCREASE A BENEFIT UNDER ANY PUBLIC PENSION OR RETIREMENT SYSTEM. Those who wish to tax away more of your money will be voting, too -- and they will vote "No".
Laurie R. November 05, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Just FYI - The League of Women Voters in IL does not support changing the pension vote to 3/5 approval. After careful review of the plan, they urge everyone to vote NO to this amendment. Their reasoning is that by increasing the majority needed to pass any increase, the position of power switches to the minority group. Please see their website for a better explanation. LWVIL Opposes Constitutional Amendment on November Ballot After reviewing the General Assembly’s proposal, relevant League positions and precedents, and researching supporting documentation, League of Women Voters of Illinois Board of Directors has decided to oppose HJRCA 49, the Constitutional Amendment referendum proposal that will be on the November 6, 2012 ballot. The rationale and explanation for this decision are here. Members are encouraged to copy the statement and distribute it as seems appropriate.
Jeff Fairchild November 05, 2012 at 04:59 PM
I agree with Harry Stanley. I hope the Geneva teachers are looking at these comments and do not make a huge mistake. If the teachers walk, I would urge the School Board to give them a few days, no more than a week, and if no final agreement is reached, to terminate negotiations and begin the process of hiring permanent replacements. I know too many people in the community who have lost jobs or suffered pay decreases to keep or get a job to condone teachers walking out on the students in the middle of a semester in the face of an offer that promises them continued jobs with no decrease in pay. We have many great teachers in Geneva who I respect tremendously and I hope they make the right decision here because none of the teachers, including the great ones, should fool themselves into thinking they are irreplaceable, especially in this economy.
Jack November 05, 2012 at 09:13 PM
And the LWVIL is wrong on this issue. A minority, sometimes as little as one vote, ALWAYS has control of the vote, from that narrow point of view. It isn't about the informal legislative process that goes on behind the scenes for every vote. It is about making sure that any change really needs to be made, before launching a process that is fraught with danger to the financial stability of the State of Illinois. We are already somewhat unstable. Allowing any increased financial burden must be a choice of a great majority of our citizens -- not just those who can be swayed by public employee unions, not just those who pay little or no attention to underlying issues -- and not those who are beholden to corporate or other interests who expect to benefit financially even though the rest of us are losing jobs, homes and futures. VOTE YES ! Vote to make a 3/5 majority required ! We need MORE PROTECTION for TAX-PAYERS !

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