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.


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. 



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.



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.



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



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.



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.

Fun with Numbers October 25, 2012 at 07:11 PM
So which schools districts are looking to raid the CUSD 304 teacher talent pool with offers that include even more attractive wages and benefits? The employment market data for k-12 teachers is very clear — there are no openings other than substitutes. http://www.ieanea.org/resources/rif-resources/job-links/#county The flight risk and brain drain threats that are the mantra of the NEA/IEA/GEA have never been more hollow. It is time to take a very firm position and put an end to the triennial “tradition of extortion.” Let’s allow those who wish to pursue other opportunities in neighboring towns and counties to pursue them as soon as they strike. There is no rational or even emotional justification to make any concessions in light of the abysmal fiscal condition of the school district, and the historically saturated marketplace for teacher talent. Labor cost arbitrage is one the key components to restoring fiscal responsibility in Geneva and the market forces could not be more favorably aligned for the BOE and the taxpayers. Even for a transplanted Chicagoan who has been desensitized to insider dealings, payoffs and graft, this pension spike is absolutely shocking. The GEA is clearly a cult that feeds off the blood of the taxpayers.
Grace F October 25, 2012 at 08:34 PM
As a parent of school aged children, I cringe at the thought of a disruption to their school experience. Our experience thus far with the school system and individual teachers here has been positive. Unfortunately, however, the demands of the rapacious union leave me with no choice but to beg the BOE to take a hard stance. The future of this small town truly depends on your actions now. Between the BOE and the devoted parents in this community, we will figure out a way to make sure that the children don't suffer.
Geneva October 25, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Finally someoneshed some light on how ridiculous the demands of the GEA are and that most teachers don't understand how the real world works!
Rick Anderson October 25, 2012 at 09:19 PM
I would say the teachers have hoodwinked their own young teachers with demands that are ridiculous and so out of touch with reality. No one should be immune from long term or temporary economic downturns. We are all in this together and to grant exclusion of teachers to what taxpayers must endure, enhances and will perpetuate pure snobbery by the teachers PAC (union). If nothing is done now, when is a good time to do it......the teacher leaders have said NEVER!
George Jackowiec October 25, 2012 at 10:02 PM
First of all I want to give credit to all of the BOE members who are working so hard on the behalf of all of us. Thank you Mark, Mary, Kelly, Bill, Matt, Mike and Tim! All of your efforts during this very trying time are very much appreciated!!!! Since the debt issue is the big elephant that we will all need to deal with over the next decade, I am sure you are keeping that in focus. As for the current contract issue, I hope you will do what you can to provide some sanity to what is progressing into a very insane situation. I agree with Bob M., I can see tuition reimbursement or lane, but not both. Reward good teachers who stay focused in their area of expertience. In any job I have had, I got 3 sick days a year. If I didn't use them, I lost them. As for the GEA wanting 12, really? This is really an abuse. Please end that. I am amazed that they talk about a starting salary of $39+K as being low. However, if that is not in line with the market, then I say increase the starting salary to make us competitive. Also, I cannot see how the BOE is going to be able to balance their budget with insurance costs increasing 9-16% every couple of years. Teachers should start contributing a realistic portion of their health benefits. 50% is realistic, with an overall cap on total contribution. Spiking, just say no. How is that not illegal? Keep up the good work BOE!!!
btown95 October 25, 2012 at 10:13 PM
Bob, you live on this site and comment on everything, I would love to work the hours you do.
Paul Bryant October 25, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Now who was that who posted about other posters being jealous of others professions? Hmmm, who could that have been? Was it maybe... Nah! Couldn't have been That person left town for greener pastures.
Fun with Numbers October 25, 2012 at 10:21 PM
What better way to understand the focus of the GEA proposal and their FAQ than by distilling them into a wordle. Clearly "students" and "teaching" are of little importance in these documents. http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/5920718/GEA_Agreement_
Bob McQuillan October 25, 2012 at 10:30 PM
I decided 4 years ago that Geneva residents needed to understand what was really happening in their quaint little town. In the last 6 months that has happened. As I have said previously, knowledge is power and now Geneva residents understand exactly how they have been disrespected and slapped in the face (sound familiar). As to my work hours, I own my own business and my time is whatever I want it to be. I don't work 8 to 5 and I don't take the summers off. Like most teachers I put in extra hours but I put them in when I want to. I wouldn't be too surprised to find out that I "work" more hours than many others but also less them some. The hours you put in means nothing, it is the quality of work that you do that matters. You don't need to worry about me or my family, I won't be asking you or any other taxpayer to bump my salary up 22.3% right before I retire or ask you to pay my pension. Actually, as long as I enjoy what I'm doing I probably will never retire. There is no need too! Enjoy your evening btown95.
Robert Jr. October 25, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Where's our voice in this discussion? If we are talking about the education system provided to the community, then let's talk about all issues - it is embarassing to have to get nickle and dimed on fees for things that should be part of the educational system that is provided to tax payers. When we pay our taxes, it is a slap in the face every year to be hit with an added $400-$800+ in more fees ...Every year, there are $400-$800+ in added fees and costs for basic items that should be part of the education provided - this hides and transfers costs rather than properly costing out all costs of education to be paid for with taxes and insults the tax payers - it has been a thorn to all residents who have kids in schools for decades - try fixing that one while you are at it! This isn't just about pay and benefits and steps and slides... it is about accountability to the tax payers to ensure that the tax payers dollars are going to education, programs and all necessary books/fees/expenses associated with the school year, and not just to partial education, partial programs, and partial books/fees/expenses, benefits, salaries and debt service.
Julie October 25, 2012 at 10:59 PM
@ Bob....A huge thank you for all of the time you VOLUNTEER to keep those of us who care about the future of Geneva informed. Pay no attention to those who bash you for what you do! We're very fortunate to have someone so devoted to our town. THANK YOU!
btown95 October 26, 2012 at 03:33 AM
Hmmmm not fun trying to defend the hours you work huh Bob? Have a good evening
Football Guy October 26, 2012 at 03:50 AM
^btown95! whaddup dog? You're a fitness professional who is REALLY concerned about Geneva teacher salaries, right? I got yer back bro! F 'em!
Transplant to IL October 26, 2012 at 04:00 AM
Bob, thank you for presenting the facts so that we can all appreciate what is happening. This is the line that makes my blood boil: regarding retirement - "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." Reward the teachers? In what world are these people living? Who gets a reward at retirement? A 20 percent reward on taxpayers' backs? How about pins? Can we give them some pins at retirement? I'd chip in for that. These people are living in an alternate universe.
Bob McQuillan October 26, 2012 at 05:15 AM
Don't forget the Post Retirement Insurance Program that will cost the district up to 20% of the last year's teaching salary. That's another 20k on top of the retirement spike for a teacher making $100,000. Boy, the union loves to spend our money! Keep in mind this is the union's final offer after talking since February 2012. Wonder what their first offer was.
Fun with Numbers October 26, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Finally, some empirical validation for the outstanding contributions made by the PARENTS of the students. Intuitively, we already understood this to be the case. http://ideas.time.com/2012/10/24/the-single-largest-advantage-parents-can-give-their-kids/
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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