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One Taxpayer’s Thoughts on the GEA Proposal

The GEA Offer - What Are The Details

Really, are they serious? 

As I read through the GEA proposal I was reminded of the saying, “I was born on a day but it wasn’t yesterday.” After listening to teacher after teacher for the last eight weeks say that the starting salary was too low to attract the best of new teachers, I started to think that they might be right. I guess it was all lip service because increasing the starting salary by $396 (1%) isn’t going to help attract the best talent. Why didn’t any teacher mention the request of two additional years of a 6% salary spike at end of career? Did the speakers even know what “their” union was demanding? If I were a teacher with less than three years experience, my green shirt would now be in the trash.

Let's take a look at the major demands of the GEA proposal.

SALARY

The GEA proposes a three-year agreement. The following is proposed: 

2012/2013 Certified Staff will be given step and lane movement with an addition of 1% to the salary schedule.

2013/2014 Certified staff will be given step and lane movement with an addition of 1% to the salary schedule.

2014/2015 Certified staff will take a pay freeze for the first half of the year.  In the second half of the year certified staff will be given step and lane movement.

Rationale: The GEA contends that this proposal will achieve the goal of making the base salary more competitive with surrounding districts.  $396 is not going to make the base salary more competitive.

The heart of the current negotiation troubles lie in the request of the school board for a hard salary freeze. A hard salary freeze would result in no changes in compensation for the current school year. It would not give step or lane movement. It would not allow teachers completing graduate degrees and coursework the financial recognition they were promised when they started those degrees. After considering the financial points listed above, the GEA cannot support the idea of a full year hard freeze in the coming agreement. They offer no real justification for a salary increase and don’t disclose the step & lane are both increases of 2.65%. Making it appear this is a 1% salary increase disrespects the intelligence of the board and the taxpayers. See the attached PDF files for a grid of the GEA proposed salary schedule vs. the 2011-12 salary schedule. 

 

INSURANCE

The union has proposed to maintain the current structure of the insurance plan and benefits that are outlined in the expired contract except for the following:

The following schedule represents the percentage of premium costs which will be paid by the District on behalf of the teacher should insurance coverage be requested through the term of this agreement. 

Single Coverage:

100% Health/Medical (2012-2013  – HMO or PPO 750 or partial premium for PPO 400)

95% Health/Medical (2013  – 2014 - HMO or PPO 750 or partial premium for PPO 400)

95% Health Medical (2014 – 2015 - HMO or PPO 750 or partial premium for PPO 400)

Rationale: The GEA believes that with the rising costs of health insurance and the current economic status, that singles should begin contributing to their health insurance premium. This will alleviate some cost for the BOE.

Cost: There will be no additional costs to the BOE for this proposal. Instead it would save the BOE:

2013 – 2014 = $12,070

2014 – 2015 = $18,100

Insurance costs have risen 9-16% over the last few years based on the plan chosen.  The teachers still want the district to cover the vast percentage of the cost for teachers and 60% for family plans.  There should be some type of cap on insurance payments to protect the district from unplanned insurance increases during the contract period.

 

RETIREMENT

The GEA has proposed to maintain the current structure of the retirement plan and benefits that are outlined in the expired contract except for the following: 

Non-ERO Program

This program is available for those retiring teachers who do not opt for, or do not qualify, for the ERO:

1. Teachers can participate in this program for up to four years.  In the first three (3) years of participation, a teacher’s salary will increase by 6% based on the teacher’s prior year placement on the salary schedule.  In the

subsequent year, a teacher’s salary will increase based on the previous year’s negotiated average salary increase. 

Rationale: Previous contracts have allowed a one year 6% salary increase for teachers that notified the district of their intent to retire four years in advance of retirement date.  Most comparable districts allow 4 years of the 6% salary increase.  We believe that the district should reward the teachers that have contributed to the educational excellence of our district by increasing the non-ERO retirement salary increase program from one year to three years.  There is an initial increased cost to the district with the proposed change.  However, in a large majority of cases the cost to the district is made up and a savings is realized by the district in the first year that the teacher retires and is replaced.  This equates to at least a 22.3% salary increase over the last four years using only the 2.65% step increase in the fourth year. Most districts are getting away from this benefit because it is salary spike that is designed to increase pension payments. These potential retirees have received yearly salary increases throughout their career and there is no benefit to the district or students to reward them with massive increases at the end of their careers.  See the attached PDF file, which shows the salary spikes received if all current teachers with more than 30 years of service retired in four years.  This is a benefit that keeps on costing the taxpayers throughout the life of the teacher. The last column shows the dollar amount increase received every year based on a pension at 75%.

 

Post-Retirement Insurance Benefit

In addition, subject to the limitation described in the paragraph B.2 above, and as prescribed in the chart below, an amount equal to a percentage of a retiring teacher’s final year’s teaching salary will be paid to the Teachers Retirement Insurance Program (TRIP) or may be invested in a 403B account or an account of the retiree’s choice subject to applicable federal and state taxes, no earlier than September 1 in the year of retirement and no later than January 15 in the year immediately following retirement. 

Completed Years of Geneva Service at the Time of Retirement

Maximum Available for Health Insurance Purposes (An Amount Equal to a Percentage of Final year Teaching Salary)

Fifteen (15), but not less than twenty (20) 10%; Twenty (20), but less than twenty-five (25) 15%

Twenty-five (25) or more 20%

Rationale: The BOE has proposed to lessen the post-retirement insurance benefit.  We believe that our retirees deserve this benefit with the percentages of final year teaching salaries at the same amount as in the now expired agreement.  Based on the request for 6% spikes, the cost of this benefit will increase dramatically.

 

SICK LEAVE

The GEA has proposed to maintain the current structure of the sick leave benefit that is outlined in the expired contract except for the following.

R. Sick Leave

Each teacher will receive sick leave benefits according to the amount of sick days they have accumulated. See Chart below. Sick days may be used for personal illness, or illness or death in the household of the teacher’s residence or in the immediate family. Immediate family shall include parents, spouse, brothers, sisters, children (including step-children), grandparents, grandchildren, parent-in-law, brother/sister in-law and legal guardian. Teachers may accumulate an unlimited amount of unused sick days.

Rationale: By increasing the amount of sick leave based off the number of accumulated sick days, we believe that teachers will be rewarded for their excellent attendance.  This provides two benefits.  First, there is a savings to the district with a decreased use of substitute teachers.  Second, it provides an additional option to speed the retirement of teachers near the end of their careers.  Teachers have the option of using additional sick days to retire earlier.  In a large majority of cases, this provides a financial savings to the district (see retirement).  They currently receive 10 sick days per year (180 work days).  This is a blatant misuse of sick days.  First, sick days should not be rolled over and second, sick days should be used as sick days.  They are called sick days for a reason.  They aren’t “Days So That I Can Retire Earlier and Cost the District More Money.”  You have 10 sick days to use per year, use them or loose them.

Accumulated Sick Days

Maximum Amount of Sick Days per year at full pay

1 – 100 days 12 days

101 – 150 days 15 days

151 – 200 days 20 days

 

TUITION REIMBURSEMENT

The following is proposed:        

2012/2013 Reduce to $85,500.  Reimburse courses in approved degree programs at a rate of 50%.

2013/2014 Reduce to $75,000.  Reimburse courses in approved degree programs at a rate of 50%.

2014/2015 Reduce to $50,000.  Reimburse courses in approved degree programs at a rate of 50%.

Rationale: It is important that certified staff continue to have the opportunity to receive financial assistance in the pursuit of a graduate degree.  The experience from this course work is one of the primary opportunities for staff to better their teaching, and the small investment in this is returned to students many times over. The reduction in funding is simply an acknowledgement of the current economic conditions.  Benefit should be changed to either tuition reimbursement or a lane increase not both.  Maximum of one Masters degree should be reimbursable and must be in the area you teach.

 

GEA RELEASE TIME

Continue unchanged from the 2009-2012 contract.

Rationale: The value of this release time for the GEA President is great given the limited opportunities for communication between the staff and the administration.  This release time manifests itself through resolution of conflicts between the staff and the administration before they would result in grievances being filed.  

Avoidance of grievances is a positive both for the health of the staff/administrator relationship and for the reduced consultation with lawyers retained by the district.  The district should not allow the union president to spend 70% of her time on union matters.  This incurs the salary of the union president plus a substitute teacher to teach her class.  The GEA should cover any cost for a substitute through collected union dues.

Cost: There is no increase in cost to continue unchanged from current contract.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Paul Bryant October 26, 2012 at 02:42 PM
BOE final offer posted to geneva304.org.
Sandra Ellis October 26, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Bob M., thanks again for a concise explanation of the GEA proposal. (In spite of the teacher "plants" who only seek to discredit you with skewed or no factual backup.) It's interesting how they talk about competitive salaries but are really fattening wallets of those teachers at the top of the pay scale. And extra sick days, and no monitoring of their activities?? Most disturbing is the misinformation about a "surplus" in the education account that they mistakenly think is theirs and post on their website. If they don't get the math and don't get the logic of why there is not money available, what are they teaching and are they competent to teach. If over half the teaching staff are wearing green shirts, than that half needs to take remedial math and step back and let more competent teachers take over. If they do get the math but are bullied into not speaking out, that also is a terrible role model and submissive behavior. They basically are teaching entitlement behaviour based on skewed facts and they know better but allow it. Hold tight BOE and please get the applications ready for replacements that will willingly teach while the highly paid striking teachers demonstrate even more poor role modeling. Green shirts=green with envy of surrounding school districts and all about the money. UNITED they gripe and pontificate in spite of excellent working conditions and benefits and salaries?
Kathy October 26, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Interesting article, thanks for posting Fun with Numbers!
Rudy October 29, 2012 at 06:05 PM
"I think the boards offer was fair and the teacher would gain respect for taking it and showing they do care for their providers the community by giving back a little. On the other hand if they choose to strike this would seem to me like a catastrophic event when all but a small percentage of supports would loose faith in our trully beloved teachers. I personally have 3 Geneva students that would be affected. I just hope they don't feel the need to do this for the kids! as many have stated its all for the kids! Rudy O.
Geneva Dad November 02, 2012 at 10:52 PM
Maybe it's time to get rid of the union and let teachers get raises on their own merits. The good ones of which there are many would get ahead. The weak ones just like in business would move on. No more getting away with showing movies to my kids 2-3 days a week in middle school and calling it teaching.

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