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Mutchler Cancels Meeting Between Geneva Teachers Union Leader and Heartland Parents

Heartland Elementary School's PTO sends an email notice of a meeting Tuesday with GEA President Carol Young, but 304 Connects follows with an e-blast that the meeting is cancelled due to confidential nature of union negotiations with schools.

Geneva School Superintendent Kent Mutchler cancelled a Tuesday afternoon meeting set up by Heartland Elementary School parents with Carol Young, president of the Geneva teachers union.

School District 304 made the announcement of the cancellation at around 8:55 a.m. via a 304 Connects e-blast.

"Please be informed that the meeting at Heartland scheduled for this afternoon communicated through the Heartland PTO email blast is cancelled," the 304 Connects e-blast said.

"I cancelled it because we are supposed to be negotiating privately, between the union leadership and the board," Mutchler said in a brief telephone conversation Tuesday morning.

Mutchler has authority to cancel the meeting because it was to be held at Heartland Elementary School.

The 304 Connects e-blast suggests that parents with concerns regarding the impact of contract negotiations contact Young, Mutchler or Heartland Elementary Principal Adam Law.

Teachers in Evergreen Park School District 124 went on strike today, and strikes also have been ratified in Highland Park District 112 and Crystal Lake.

But Mutchler indicated that those cases aren't refective of the ongoing talks here and that many other districts have negotiated teachers contracts successfully. "A lot have settled," he said, noting that those contract solutions simply "don't make the headlines."

Mutchler said he could not comment on the details of the talks, but they are continuing to move forward.

"The key is that we’re Geneva, and we’re working through our own process," he said.

Bob McQuillan October 05, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Pat L stated "you don't know if that teacher is now picking up 1,2, 6 different things to help out "their financial situation". So salary increases reflect just that. Thank you. So thank you for throwing out all the numbers and facts, but without knowing the WHOLE story stop making blanket statements about increases. I know one teacher in particular that has at least 5 stipends. Sure in your books that could mean a 28% increase in salary and that is how TaxFACTS will report it, without knowing the whole story." That statement basically says; what does each teacher make on stipends? I said I don't know the answer to that question. If you want to know, ask the district. I reported the information as the state & district report it. Making plans, grading assignments/tests and sitting in meetings are part of being a teacher. Just like all jobs, there are tasks that need to be done. Teachers are already paid to do all the things you mentioned. If you are saying they don't make enough money, that's a whole other discussion. As for teaching - again, this isn't about what teachers do or don't do. This is about finances. The teachers have taken their position about wanting a salary increase. I have spoken out about overall school district spending since 1998 - when I had three children in the district. We should all work to "fix the district" since the district is really the entire community. Doesn't matter if we are employees, administrators, taxpayers or we have a 75.
DAVID TOMELL October 05, 2012 at 03:22 PM
The bond repayment issue will be resolved by a re-fi as soon as the bonds are callable. The maturity date will be extended and the rates will come down.
Bob McQuillan October 05, 2012 at 03:35 PM
David You are probably right, the bonds will be re-financed or refunded as the district calls it. But that doesn't solve the problem of high payments until the bonds are callable. Many of the bonds are non-callable which means we will pay a premium if we want to contact the bondholders and pay them off early. Between now and 2019 the yearly repayments will increase until they reach $24.9 million dollars a year. Last year we paid about $15 million and this year will pay over $16 million. Then once refunded, the maturity date will be extended so we will be paying interest for a longer period of time. Also, there is no guarantee that the will come down when the bonds become callable. The current rates are very low right now but I believe all possible callable bonds have already been refunded. Refunding the bonds, in the end, means we will probably be paying back more than the $309 million we owe today. If the district has excess reserves funds, those should be used to pay down the debt. Reserve funds are the result of the community being overtaxed for years. Reserve funds should not be used to pay everyday expenses, those should be covered by the regular yearly budget.
Rod Nelson October 05, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Bob, Could you clarify this issue of "reserve funds"? Schools get paid twice a year, corresponding to the two tax collections. For better or worse, the vast majority of Geneva school funding comes from local property tax since Geneva has a relatively high assessed valuation per pupil (which in turn partly but inversely determines state funding). This twice a year payment system creates a yearly cash flow with a peak and a valley. Twenty five years ago the District quite regularly issued "tax anticipation" warrants to "fill in" the valley in the cash flow. This also lowered the peak balances. Of course selling these warrants cost money in transactions costs and (mostly) interest expense. If the "reserve" is just sufficient to make selling warrants unnecessary, the net effect could actually save a taxpayer a few dollars. But if the reserve is simply a "rainy day" fund, then in my judgement it is improper. Current taxpayers should not be asked to provide a financial cushion for future cohorts of taxpayers. Each group of taxpayers has historically had to deal with its own problems, which seems equitable. Similarly, current taxpayers should not saddle future cohorts with current problems. Future cohorts also include kids. Thanks, Rod Nelson
Bob McQuillan October 05, 2012 at 07:00 PM
Rod Great question. You are correct about the two payments. The payment in July clears up any bills from the previous fiscal year. Districts run on a fiscal year of July 1 thru June 30 not on a calendar fiscal year. In the past, they issue the tax anticipation warrants near the end of the school year, effectively borrowing money based on future tax payments. They don't do that anymore. That is one of the reason they want to maintain a $15 million balance in the education fund, so that bills in April, May & June can be paid. The state of Illinois suggests but does not require that every district maintain @27% of their operating costs in reserves for a rainy day. Operating costs are everything except deb service repayment. This year's approved budget is $93 million with $16 million in debt service repayment. Thus operating costs are $77 million (93-16). The state would suggest @$ 21 million in reserves. Geneva likes to keep 31-33% in reserves so that would be @$25 million. The budget presentation had $53 million in reserves expected as of June 30, 2013. That is 69% of operating costs. That number includes $15 million of what the district calls "working cash." The state doesn't include working cash in it's 27%. Though they have not said it, I believe the district is planning to use reserves to offset the yearly debt service payments increases until 2019. Reserves are the result of over-payment of taxes and is the taxpayers money. It should be used to reduce taxes.

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