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.)
- 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:
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
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- Geneva School Board's 'Final Offer' Made Public
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- 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
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