Geneva School Board, GEA Will Meet Again Thursday

An eight-hour negotiating session doesn't come up with a tentative contract agreement, but both sides will meet again in hopes of an 11th-hour settlement prior to a possible Nov. 9 teachers strike.

For Genevans hoping and praying for a settlement prior to a Friday teachers-strike deadline, the initial news from Tuesday's negotiating session was mixed and a little sketchy.

School District 304 issued a press release and sent an email via 304 Connects informing the community that the Board of Education and the Geneva Education Association continued negotiations Tuesday evening with the help of a federal mediator.

"Proposals were exchanged, and both parties agreed to meet again on Thursday, Nov. 8," the release said.

As of 10:50 a.m. Tuesday, the GEA had not issued a press release regarding the issue or posted one on its website, gea4students.com.

Following the Oct. 26 negotiations session, the School Board and GEA released details and explanations of their respective offers to the public. Today's press release said updates on the negotiations process and strike planning will continue to be posted on the board’s negotiations webpage.

"The board remains committed to negotiating an agreement that is good for students, fair to teachers and fiscally responsible," the School Board's press release says.

The press release said the board and administration continue to plan for a potential strike, which could occur as early as Friday, Nov.  9, or anytime after.


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Geneva Vikings November 09, 2012 at 01:50 AM
If this is true, then I applaud the PTO. We need the GEA to understand that we support the BOA. And now learning that Steve Young is on the IEA Retirement Board and Carol is due to retire, it seems as if this boils down to getting the most for yourself before heading out. Outrageous!
Parents for 304 November 09, 2012 at 02:00 AM
Another opportunity to bring reality to GEA regarding their attempt to rationalize their demands on their "Get More Information Page." On to the question regarding the meaning of a hard salary freeze. This has been very common in the past 5 years and yes, all private sector employees would have said no if given the opportunity however that is not the way employment works. To state that teachers who have been working on grad level courses are not allowed the "promised" increase is flat out inaccurate. All of your teachers knew this contract was up for renegotiation therefore there can be no assumptions as there was no guarantee past the most recent contract. Addressing the concept of pay being one year behind due to a freeze, welcome to the real world, all employees across all sectors have dealt with this same issue and the choice, while unfortunate, was clear, either each individual takes a small hit for a year or many positions are simply eliminated.
Miss M. November 09, 2012 at 02:37 AM
Yes, the Mill Creek PTO has communicated to the school families that PTO activities (book fair, PJ storytime with principal) will continue. I am not sure if they intended to make an intentional "statement" with their actions. Up until now the families at MC have genuinely loved their teachers. This sentiment is definitely changing with the families I have spoken with about the issues. Regardless, it proves that the PTO is thinking independently and making choices that support their school and their kids regardless of what the union chooses to do.
Miss M. November 09, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Ann, Bob, Cody All of you have asked excellent questions and made productive and forward thinking suggestions. I would hope that you would consider running for school board or at least send emails to the BOE with your suggestions on reform. It would be a shame if the conversation was limited to the Patch comments. It just may take some fresh thinking from the community to move us ahead of this impasse. PS Cody said "I am all for supporting our BOE, but not with a plan that will turn our schools into a revolving door for new teachers." Given the high unemployment within the education sector (and 10,000+ resumes on file with the regional board of education) I am guessing whoever snatches up any open positions after a strike/replacement would be THRILLED to have a job and would work their tail off to keep it in a district filled with passionate, supportive and dedicated parents.
Miss M. November 09, 2012 at 02:55 AM
Well said Bruce!
Kathy November 09, 2012 at 02:59 AM
Unless you have been involved in your children's PTO at their respective schools, you may not realize that every school has a PTO that fundraises for that school, and the proceeds go to fulfill "wishlists" that are submitted by the teachers and consist of the items they would like to purchase for their classrooms. Sometimes it's technical equipment, sometimes learning tools, etc. So when you hear about all the "money teachers spend out of their own pockets" take it with a grain of salt! Each PTO raises thousands of dollars each year with their Fun Fairs, etc. Also, there is a huge amount of money raised by the Geneva Academic Foundation that is given in the form of grants in essentially the same way -- teachers apply for grants for classroom and/or school items, and thousands of dollars are given away each year.
Geneva Vikings November 09, 2012 at 03:11 AM
So it's after 9PM and there has been no announcement, we have not heard the outcome of today's meeting...just silence. Appears as if the GEA has had their bluff called. They seemed pretty confident when they were at meetings threatening a strike. What's next GEA?
Miss M. November 09, 2012 at 03:24 AM
Kathy...thanks for making the point about PTO fundraisers. I think the general community doesn't realize that individual PTOs raise a ton of money for their school. I don't remember what the figure stated by the PTO presidents was at the kindergarten open house, but if I recall correctly it was something like $40,000 (or more) raised with all the fun fair, book fair, spirit wear, and various fundraisers offered through out the year. If the GEA alienates the parents who fund the PTO then they will lose more then respect, they will lose a lot of $$ for luxury items they have come to expect yearly.
Silence Dogood November 09, 2012 at 03:32 AM
Edward 54, Good Work! You must be in the vinyl yard sign business ! "Did "I (Heart) Geneva Teachers" put you over the top? Or do you manage a Cash for Gold Store? or a Title Max? "busy restaurants? "Look at ones that have closed...look at ones that are offering more specials and deals than they ever did before. and the 'packed commons" ? Lets see how the sales tax figures pay out. GEA, please take off the rose-colored glasses and see the real world!
Cody November 09, 2012 at 03:36 AM
Miss M, With what the BOE has last put on the table for the GEA, new teachers will come in, get a year or two experience, and move on to a district that has step and lane. What people don't realize is even if there was zero increase to the value of each square in step and lane, a new teacher will lose over $50,000 over their career with a one year hard freeze. That is why the GEA is fighting for it so hard.
Silence Dogood November 09, 2012 at 04:20 AM
Edward 54 - please explain just how the first part of the story about a teacher you had that couldn't control a classroom has ANYTHING WHATSOEVER to do with keeping step and lane? Are you saying that without step and lane, the existing teachers will suddenly be unable to control their classrooms? Enlighten us on the connection!
Silence Dogood November 09, 2012 at 04:30 AM
Edward, Thomas is just being silly. Not 6 aliases, you're more likely to be 1 of 388 alienated.
Robert Jr. November 09, 2012 at 05:09 AM
I tried several times also - was suspicious but did not want to go down the path of coverup. Conflict of interest? Extortion? You bet.
Scott Meyers November 09, 2012 at 11:35 AM
Thank you, Ann, for bringing reason (facts) and insight to the discussion. I agree with Cody that you can't throw out one system until you have a clear plan for a new one. And I am still skeptical that a true merit system can be worked out. Until you work in a school and see the variety of activities and methods of assessment that teachers must rely on and be held accountable for, it is far too easy to just say "some alternative method" can be worked out. On another note, even though I am a teacher (in another district) I believe that pension spiking must come to an end. Finally, I really don't believe there is an IEA conspiracy unfolding here. Locals are a democratic institution as is IEA with elected leaders. There has been no "top down" pressure to strike in any of the 3-4 contract negotiations I have been involved in.
Edward 54 November 09, 2012 at 12:36 PM
Let me explain it was a two part post. Part one I respect teachers and the jobs they do and do not believe anyone can be a teacher or that it is an easy job as many if these posts imply. Second part of if you read it asks for a system to replace step in lane. I never correlated the story in part 1 to defend step and lane.
Thomas November 09, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Ann, Couple points. The drivers ed. teacher in question retired before this school year and his often quoted final salary reflected a "retirement" spike and coaching stipends that could be as much as $12,000. Although there are some who believe a Calculus teacher should make more than a 1st grade teacher both required the same amount of education and investment to get the job (undergraduate degree and teaching certification)
Bruce Wallace Dienst November 09, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Thomas - so take the number down, your position is that, say, $110,000 for a Drivers Ed teacher is acceptable? Are you also saying that it is not more difficult to teach AP math than 1st grade?
t November 09, 2012 at 01:01 PM
@Scott - Having worked as a teacher and in the private sector, I understand the activities and responsibilities of both sides. I can comfortably say that the variety of tasks, responsibilities and methods required is no more daunting for either role. Why can't merit-based systems function in a similar fashion to the private sector? It isn't so difficult to fathom and actually works quite well for hard-working, productive employees. - Employees are split into departments, each with a lead. (How my school and companies worked.) - Each employee has a pre-defined, mutually-agreed set of targets for the year and an annual review. The assessments are performed by the next level up (by the team lead or, for team leads, by the principal) and a self-assessment is performed. - Every year, the company/school is given a figure which can be used for raises and a separate figure which can be used for bonuses. - The boss/principal/boe gives to each lead the bonus bucket to allocate as needed. - The company/school/boe allocates a range of percentage raises, if finances permit, based on employee performance. It works. Does favoritism happen and do some employees always feel they are undervalued? Yes, but they have assessments to show them why and they are always welcome to look for another position in another company/school. This time of guaranteed everything and waiting around for retirement has to end. It is these teachers who make a bad name for the rest of you.
Edward 54 November 09, 2012 at 01:10 PM
Silence dogood - So this is what it comes down to, attacking me personally and assuming what I do for a living. You know what that they say about assuming right?
Bruce Wallace Dienst November 09, 2012 at 01:23 PM
@ t - exactly! It's not hard....it happens in the majority of businesses all over the country all the time.
t November 09, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Bruce, To be fair, that is a poor analogy. The skills required differ. As Thomas wrote, both require the same level of education and investment but each requires a different set of skills, strengths and responsibilities. Rather than compare first grade and AP math, compare junior high and AP math. Junior high is not as academically advanced but is a notoriously difficult age. I would argue that though the AP math might be more challenging intellectually, that the classroom management and pupil management skills are much more challenging in jr high. Back to first grade - a good first grade teacher, though teaching simple concepts, has a tremendous amount of preparation to ensure that their class does not lose focus, that children from many varying levels are taught the basics. At this age there is a far greater disparity in abilities than in later years. Just saying there are many factors in the determination of compensation which is why it should be determined on a role-by-role basis driven by someone able to judge how they perform. As for the drivers ed teacher, there's no excuse. Teachers may not realize the benefits THEY get, and I'm not talking about the "summers off" argument used so often. They are not required to suit-up, to travel away from home/family for a significant part of the year. From what I see, the situation has improved significantly and they are paid very competitively. They'd be hard-pressed to make the same in the private sector.
EnoughAlready November 09, 2012 at 01:35 PM
PART 1 Cody --you said "new teachers will come in, get a year or two experience, and move on to a district that has step and lane." I strongly disagree. As a former teacher, with many friends who are certified current and former teachers, I think you overestimate the number of available jobs in other districts. Additionally, everyone seems to be overlooking those aspects that are not as easily quantifiable that make a teacher's job SO much easier in Geneva. How do you put a price on the fact that in the vast majority schools in Geneva are 1) filled with kids who eat three healthy meals (or more) a day 2) have all the comfortable material possessions and living environment that make life fun a stress free, 3) have parents, grandparents, etc who care deeply about their academics and spend an inordinate amount of time volunteering in the classroom, extra curricular activities, and with homework, 4) have access to the quality of life aspects of Geneva (park district, travel teams, library, cultural events, private lessons, etc), 5) have relatively low stress lives and live in loving homes? I could go on and on.
EnoughAlready November 09, 2012 at 01:38 PM
PART 2 Unless you have actually taught in a school (like I have) where kids haven't eaten breakfast (or even dinner the night before) wear the same clothes and shoes with holes in them day after day, have a parent in prison or dead, have more stress in their live than one little body can hold...then you don't know how difficult it is to teach. Geneva teachers have the perfect conditions which provides for a superior opportunity to teach.I don't think Geneva teachers can even fathom what it is like to teach in a school where the problems and challenges are staggering. That alone is why there is a line of teachers who would accept a job and never leave for another district because a few thousand dollars in pay cannot compare to the quality of life for teachers and students in Geneva. This is a HUGE benefit even if it is not something you can put a price tag on.
Bruce Wallace Dienst November 09, 2012 at 01:43 PM
@ t - fair enough. What is clear is that a system that results in the Drivers Ed teacher making the mentioned salary - or anything close to it - is obviously disfunctional. As you propose elsewhere, school administration and/or department heads should have discretion to allocate available salary pools to teachers based on performance and capability. Great teachers will achieve great salaries in an open market competing for their services.
Rick Anderson November 09, 2012 at 01:49 PM
It is very interesting how once the election is over, lay-offs are announced, the impending fiscal cliff is a hot topic, curtailing government spending comes to forefront, and the stock market begins to tank. And yet GEA still doesn't get the picture that funding their wants is not sustainable and even further from a secured guarantee.
EnoughAlready November 09, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Part 3 So to say a teacher will lose $50,000 over the course of a career is not pulling on my heartstrings because what the teachers GAIN is so much greater. The sheer blessing of being able to teach in a district that is crime free, stress free, affluent, with tremendous physical resources, support staff, dedicated PTO, and more parent volunteers they could ever want or need is priceless. I am SO tired of the teachers of Geneva talking about how they cannot attract high quality candidate without a pay increase and how they cannot compete without a step and lane union run system is ridiculous. I don't think a portion of our pampered Geneva teachers could survive a week in a lesser district because they have become too entitled. I don't see a long line of job openings in any district so it is easier to pretend the grass is greener somewhere else, until you realize somehwere else doesn't exist. I do see a long line at the unemployment office though...so maybe they should taste the real world and see how quickly their job replacements take the positions and work hard with gratitude to be teaching in Geneva.
t November 09, 2012 at 02:17 PM
@Enough - Thank you so much for spelling it out as someone with experience. I have to say, as a working parent who takes vacation days out of my paltry private-sector allotment to perform volunteer activities with the PTO because I care about our schools, students and teachers, the demands of the GEA feel like a kick in the face. Sadly, it's the teachers who are required to teach in the circumstances you describe in Part 2 who are probably sorely underpaid.
Beth Ward November 09, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Rick, you point out the exact issues which have created the perfect storm for the IEA. If Geneva teachers strike and fall into the crosshairs of the media, a huge audience will be watching our teachers... who are at the very apex of the educational food chain. The salaries/benefits/perks will be exposed to people who've never even heard of 100K for a PE teacher, let alone pension spiking, etc. Think our outrage has been harsh here in Geneva? The rest of the country will gobble this up. Also, I have to reiterate that peer evaluations have to be key in a merit-based system. I taught at Francis Parker in Chicago...every teacher had release time to visit/peer teach in other classrooms. A visitors desk was at the back of each classroom as well. Anyone was welcome and encouraged to sit in on any class and write comments...which were then read aloud at evaluations. I had the children of aldermen, ambassadors, professors of education in my class, and had all of their parents visit at one time. The collaborative atmosphere in the building was phenomenal. I still have the ligature marks on my neck from my next job, in a public school. The union had us all by the throat. Maybe that's why I feel so strongly here...the teachers who don't agree with this union have no voice. That is tragic, Arron Lee.
Sue J November 09, 2012 at 02:36 PM
I think that the reason why we have a grade school gym teacher and driver's ed teacher making over a 100K is because we are a community unit school district. Can someone verify that for me? So under that classification teachers are paid on their years in and education level attained not paid based on the demands on the subject. Maybe this is something that the BOE needs to look into.
Silence Dogood November 09, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Gosh, Edward, I'm SO sorry, I wasn't assuming anything, I was inferring....but hey, if that's how you choose to see it, then we'll just have to agree to disagree, and I will reluctantly acknowledge you may be half right.


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