Video Update: School Board Prepares 'Last Best Offer' to Geneva Teachers Union
The Geneva Board of Education meets in executive session to hash out its final offer to the Geneva Education Association. Parents, GEA members and tax watchdogs make brief statements during open session.
Geneva tax watchdogs, parents and members of the Geneva Education Association made a final plea during a short public comments period before the School Board adjourned to executive session Wednesday to discuss its "last best offer" to the teachers union.
School Board President Mark Grosso said previously that the board and the GEA have until Friday, Oct. 19, to submit their last best offers to the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board.
Grosso said Wednesday that School District 304 would post a timeline at www.geneva304.org, hopefully sometime Thursday, that expalins "what happens when, and where we go from here."
During the public comments portion of the meeting, which Grosso limited to a little more than 20 minutes, speakers representing both sides of the issue made statements in support of higher pay for teachers or for tighter fiscal management.
Dwight Swartwood argued in favor of holding the line on teacher salaries as "a matter of simple math." Considering the district's $300 million debt in principle and interest and a 2 percent compounded growth, Swartwood said Geneva taxes could double in the next 10 years.
"We should act now to flatten the tax trajectory. If we don’t, we’re going to become non-competitive with other districts," he said.
Steve Todd described the debt as "one heck of a problem here."
"I’m one of the silent majority," he said. "I don’t know how you’re going to address this problem, but I would encourage you as a citizen to take a stand—not just roll over and agree with what the teachers want."
Chuck Miles, a husband of a speech pathologist in Geneva, said he and his family moved here 20 years ago because of the schools. He said there are "numerous studies that tell us the obvious"—that good quality schools translate to higher property values and a higher quality of life.
He asked the School Board to show students that "you can make a living being a teacher."
"We should use this as a motivation for our best and brightest to pursue teaching as a career," he said.
Carol Sanders noted the difference between "price" and "value." She supported the GEA's position and asked School Board members to consider "the value of living in Geneva in the long run."
Kim Lee, a math teacher and member of the GEA negotiating team, said the School District's email message via 304 Connects regarding the impasse gave the wrong impression that negiations weren't continuing, when in fact both sides are meeting again on Oct. 23.
Lee said both the School Board and the GEA use a "cost-out sheet" to determine accurate budget numbers and how money is spent in the district.
"As you know, our two sides have had many struggles over the continued use of this cost-out sheet," she said. "(But) we look forward to working with you on the 23rd to work out a mutually beneficial agreement."
Get More From Patch!