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.

G.Ryan October 03, 2012 at 02:12 AM
Ann, how do you know Mr. McQuillan's comments are a "slap in the face to PTO's"? Are you a PTO? Do you answer for them? I thought you stated you were a taxpayer? But since you do not provide your last name. I don't know really who you are? Us taxpayers have now realized that all these organizations, teachers, PTO's and the union members along with the school administrators are all one big bureaucracy family. So of course, you want to defend their cause. But don't be attacking Mr. McQuillan when he is trying his best to promote objectivity of the issues we as a community are pledged with. This monopoly has put this community in such a fiscal crisis which is going to be with us for 15 years with the bond repayment that teachers and yourself need to understand. Us taxpayers should not be the ones to carry this burden alone. This bureaucracy should be acting with the integrity and ethics in lowering the 309 million debt by cutting staff and their salaries not giving raises or the continuance of their supplemental healthcare benefits. When there is NO MONEY what don't you understand?
G.Ryan October 03, 2012 at 02:21 AM
Bully? What is "a more polished fashion."? Please elaborate. Is it wearing green T-shirts with union propaganda a more polished fashion? Well, us taxpayers are tired of that being pushed down our throats so much. Ann, once again please tell your cohorts that we the taxpayers don't have any more money! Please let them know we have 309 MILLION IN DEBT. And all Geneva community groups should hear this
Bob McQuillan October 03, 2012 at 02:31 AM
Ann, I never expected you to be swayed by anything GenevaTaxFACTS members say. And that is fine, everyone has the right to their opinion. What our group tries to do is research and provide information to the entire community. In this particular case, I do know what was concerning the Heartland PTO and why the meeting was arranged. I wasn't offended by being called a bully because I know we are not. At the same time, please realize that many of us have been addressing the school board for more than four years and have been called every name in the book. Personal attacks roll off my back because I realize we are trying to do the right thing. Have we made mistakes along the way, without a doubt we have. It is frustrating when some people only focus on the mistakes and ignore the information we have provided via our website. When 200 people show up to a meeting in neon green shirts, they know exactly what they are doing. The union rep has on several occasions been quoted as saying the two remaining issues are working conditions & salary. The majority of teachers who have spoken have said that a salary freeze is unacceptable. All comments are available at https://www.geneva304.org/board_of_education/meetings/meetingvideos.asp. I have no knowledge of any aspects of the contract other than what the teachers and union have said publicly.
Elaine Lane October 03, 2012 at 11:42 AM
Ann, when you say, "I just wish he would conduct himself in a more polished fashion," it sounds a lot like, "I can't handle the truth."
Becky Hruby October 03, 2012 at 12:40 PM
I assume the debt of $309 million is factual. To me, that should be the bottom line...our primary concern as taxpayers. This fact alone makes it difficult for me to support a raise, but I try to keep an open mind & would love to hear from the teachers. We are making judgements based on one side of the story. It's a shame union negotiations must be confidential. we are unable to see the whole picture to form a truly educated opinion. Something to think about...
Ann October 03, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Calm down Patch Posters, no need to revolt! I'm not looking to hijack Geneva into a "dictatorship", I enjoy the democratic process, I just wished is was alive and well in Geneva. I am a taxpayer, a parent and a member of the "bureaucracy family", my number one goal is to ensure my children receive the best education possible. BUT that doesn't mean I can't handle "the truth"! I get it people, Geneva is facing the same challenges that other cities, counties, states and the federal government is facing. I care about how my money is spent but I also will admit I moved to a community that had property taxes (as compared to others) because I wanted my kids to go to Geneva schools. Now maybe I'm one of the few but my taxes have significantly (more then $1,000) increased in the 5 years I have lived here. Now I do realize that today is very different from 5 years ago (I worked in an industry largely affected by the down turn) but one thing for me is the same, my kids education. My kid (who is still in elementary school) even gets why his education is important, he knows without him and his generation we will live in a sad country. I want my kids to do more then what I have done, I want them to create a world changing device, cure diseases or whatever else their hearts desire. And one way they can do so is by providing (in conduction with their teachers) a great education. Cont.
Ann October 03, 2012 at 01:48 PM
My children have greatly benefited from Geneva teachers and that is why I am putting my faith in the proper people to do their jobs. I believe that the school board and teachers union will do their best to negotiate a contract that works. I also have no doubts that the contract will be THE platform for every person running for school board, so buckle up because we have many more months of this. My comments have been said before and they will be said again. I'm just so tired of Bob and his group hijacking everything school related to push his points. I mean I don't submit anything to the Patch for my group because I don't want Bob to attach his comments to it. And Bob, if you have the in at Heartland's PTO, go for it, to me that's questionable though. Maybe you should enlighten the entire community to what their concerns were. This could go on forever, and likely it will so relax folks and don't get your knickers twisted. I will say Becky has a good point, maybe contract talks should be more public but I think it's safe to say unions have passed their peak so that won't happen. Also for Sally, if a vote to strike happens the strike won't start immediately, there is a process. Both sides will have to make their last and final offers public knowledge and the process could take about a month. The offers are posted on a website for public views, Bob, do you know which website? Your research would be helpful here.
Mr. Peters October 03, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Ann, do you feel that our teachers are incapable of providing a quality education for your children unless their pay, benefits and pension exceed those of their non-union peers?
Ann October 03, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Apologies, my fingers couldn't keep up with my thoughts! A couple of clarifications so my comments aren't taken incorrectly. I moved to Geneva knowing my property taxes were higher compared to other communities. Although at this time I think that difference has shrunk, parts of North Aurora (who attend West Aurora schools) pay between $7,000-$8,000. My taxes HAVE NOT gone up significantly since I moved here.
Ann October 03, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Mr Peters, that is a loaded question. There are lots of parts to that. I know I do not have the proper training, skills or education to evaluate teachers, which to me should correlate with pay. I also know that more often then not teachers work more then their contracted time for which they do not get paid. I do believe that the extra time they work and aren't being paid for provides my children with a better education. If you are asking me if I think a teacher should be paid $100,000 (using Bob's numbers from above) I would first need to know a few things. How long have they been teaching? How long with Geneva? Do they provide extra after school activities support? How many degrees/extra training don they have? AND then if I had the knowledge to place a numerical value on these questions I might say yes, that is a fair salary. There are plenty of private sector jobs that pay comparable to that.
Lamont Cranston October 03, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Narcissistic personality disorder Narcissistic personality disorder is a condition in which people have an inflated sense of self-importance and an extreme preoccupation with themselves. The causes of this disorder are unknown. An overly sensitive personality and parenting problems may affect the development of this disorder. Symptoms A person with narcissistic personality disorder may: React to criticism with rage, shame, or humiliation Take advantage of other people to achieve his or her own goals Have excessive feelings of self-importance Exaggerate achievements and talents Be preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, beauty, intelligence, or ideal love Have unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment Need constant attention and admiration Disregard the feelings of others, and have little ability to feel empathy Have obsessive self-interest Pursue mainly selfish goals
Mitotero October 03, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Ann, do not feel all alone out in this blog. I agree with you. There is a very vocal group that likes to attack people commenting on the patch. I do not think Bob M. is a bully, as per his definition. I do think the words arrogant, insolent, repetitive, and condescending might be more accurate. I took an interest in what the Tax Facts group was trying to do. Educating everyone on the finances of the school district was a positive development. However, as the posts continued to drive home the same points, and the tone became harsher, and the message started to take on a know it all, "why can't you people get it" flavor; I tuned them out. There is room for everyone to calmly debate the finances of the district. Facts are also welcome. There is no need to have one side claim to be right, and offer the "only" viable path to pay down the debt. This is my opinion as to why the Tax Facts group has alienated some of us. The message was too in your face, my way or else. I prefer discussion and compromise.
John R October 03, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Ann, Mitotero is correct. Unfortuently, it is pointless in trying to dialog with the TaxFacts folks. Even if you agree with some of their concerns that does not seem to matter to them. You are spinning you wheels with your back and forth with this group. They do not respect your opinion and could care less about your concerns. Do yourself a favor and write the board or meet with board members individually. Better yet speak up at the next board meeting. IMHO
Rick Anderson October 03, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Good for Dr. Mutchler at canceling the meeting at Heartland. The process remains within the confines of the negotiating room and on the table. Anything outside of that is pure bluster and propoganda playing on the emotions of everyone. By the way, have the teachers union considered that if they do get raises, taxpayers will be competing for those "burger flippin' jobs" to augment their income to pay the ever increasing property tax bills? Will it be worth it to them to take parents away from the home helping to educate their children and their homework whilst at their second and maybe third job?
Bob McQuillan October 03, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Ann The website you reference is http://www2.illinois.gov/elrb/Pages/FinalOffers.aspx This will not happen until one side declares an impasse. Mitotero & John R Thanks for your kind words about what GenevaTaxFACTS is trying to accomplish. Do some people "attack" with their comments? They certainly do but it is done on both sides. I have tried my best to present correct information that will help others understand what is happening in this district. The nature of e-mail allows people to read into what they feel are the emotions of the writer and many times what they feel is not correct. No matter how many times it is repeated, there are many Geneva residents still do not realize what financial issues the district is facing. That is sad. As to solutions, no one has all the answers or even the right ones. At least our group has offered, what we feel, are possible options. At this point, I'm willing to listen to any solution that makes sense. Unfortunately no one is providing any solutions that are viable for both the short & long term. Saying that you love Geneva teachers and they should be given the salary increases they are requesting is not a solution. The salary issue will continue to be a problem on every future contract. I have what I think would be a viable solution but sharing it will only bring the wrath of people that believe the more you spend the better the education received. A realistic, affordable plan must be implemented.
Angela October 03, 2012 at 04:33 PM
So, I guess what has been established here is that Bob M. and his group are villains? DEFLECTING from the truth will not change the fact that more money is not going to make for better teachers! I am glad to hear what is really going on with our tax dollars. Once again, thanks Mr. McQuillan for putting it out there. Even if it comes across to some as "in your face".
John R October 03, 2012 at 07:24 PM
Bob, I was not referring to you. You have actually toned down your rhetoric, a bit, over the last several months.
Ann October 03, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Bob, thank you (sincerely) for the website, this is very helpful information for all involved to utilize. I truly hope that a strike is not our future. I think there are assumptions made by all on this issue and most of those assumptions are not true. I don't despise TaxFacts for putting information out to the public, I just feel that it could be handled in a better way. Bob, just a suggestion but you may want to explain how you are obtaining your info, how you are looking at numbers and what qualifies you to do so. The reason I state this is because school finance can be tricky and taxpayers may be unsure of how it works. Also because I advocate for my child's education that doesn't mean I want to pay teachers an unreasonable rate. Also to Rick, I know he was joking when he said there would be less parents to volunteer because they working many jobs but there is some truth to his comment. Parents volunteers are at low. If you are a parent I encourage to spend some time in your child's school, it may give you broader insight into our students and schools.
G.Ryan October 03, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Yes, Becky it is true.This community will be dealing with a bond repayment for the next 15 years thus, our taxes will accelerate every year for the next 15 years to pay it off. This does not include the increasing of other taxing bodies within Geneva. Also we are not exempt from a tax levy increase or an increase in the tax rate. So there you have it! Thank you.
G.Ryan October 03, 2012 at 10:26 PM
Thanks, Pat and Ann for your understanding regarding this debt issue. As I mentioned above, this community will be dealing with the bond repayment clause for the next 15 years so this is not going to go away. I do believe it is time to come together and unite for the good of the community. We need solutions now regarding how to tackle this fiscal beast so the quality of the education is not impeded. I really believe this has been Bob's intent all along.
Bob McQuillan October 04, 2012 at 02:55 AM
Ann All of the information on salaries and benefits comes from either the state board of education or from the Geneva school district itself. The 2011-2012 salaries were just released Monday just prior to the board meeting. NIU also runs a website that reports on all districts and you are able to compare district to district (up to 8 at a time). I have sat through the district's own forum on school finance and have consulted with board members from other local district's to understand how school financing works. I have a MBA in management and have worked with budgets for over 35 years. I believe I have a good handle on how the school district operates. I ant to make this clear as I have heard rumors that the school board or some member is providing me with confidential information. That is blatantly untrue. I have no knowledge of any discussions between the board and the union and I have not received any information from the board or any individual member. All the information used in my analysis is available to the public, you just need to know where to look. I have been at this for many years and have sent many years trying to understand how the district operates and how our taxes are calculated. The next major decision the board will make is on the tax levy for next year. That will be decided in December and the levy can increase as much as 3%. That will affect your taxes paid in June of 2013.
Bob McQuillan October 04, 2012 at 03:33 AM
Pat L You are mistaken when you say the problem with base salary "for teacher salaries is a lump sum. Base, insurance, TRS, stipends" Insurance costs are not included in base salary and range from $0 to over $22,000 based on the individual employee. TRS does not affect base salary, they are deductions from base salary. Per the state, base salary is defined as; "the dollar amount an administrator and/or teacher has been paid for all duties performed as a school district employee during the 2011/2012 school year. Base salary includes, for example, teaching salary, compensation for extracurricular responsibilities, payments for summer school teaching, and remuneration for supervising and/or working at athletic and non-athletic events." Did you look to see if they picked up an extra stipend? Based on the method of reporting, stipends are not broken out. As to my comments at the broad meeting, the increases are true. Unless they are embarrassed by the increases, how would my comments intimidate someone from speaking in the future? Because no one knows the details, the option on the contract is to agree or disagree on salary increase. Our group has offered options on debt repayment & technology costs. I personally don't care if a teacher wears a green shirt or not, means nothing to me. If anyone wants to see the increases teachers have received over the last two years just go to http://geneva.patch.com/blog_posts/can-a-teachers-contract-be-a-matter-of-disrespect
Bob McQuillan October 04, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Pat L I can only report how the state reports to the public. Stipends are usually very small and don't add thousands and thousands of dollars to base salary. And that increase in base salary would only come in the first year of a stipend. The second and future year's stipends would not increase a base salary by 28%. Lets get real! Look at all the salary increases in just two years. If these are the result of increases in stipends then we are paying too much in stipends. The answer to this question is very simple. What was the increase in stipends from 2009 to 2010, from 2010 to 2011 and 2011 to 2012. I would suggest you FOIA the school district for the answer. I would but then you would accuse me of spending district time and labor on silly questions. If you want to believe that the vast majority of salary increases over the past three years is due to stipends, go ahead and keep making excuses. I'll continue to hammer my message, a salary freeze is not disrespecting or treating teachers unfairly. Every district employee, other than teachers, have taken at least a one year salary freeze in the last three years. Every other local teachers union has made concessions in their contract in the last three years. The step and lane compensation plan is out of date and needs to be revamped. That is the truth. The teachers would have you believe that if you pay them more, your child will receive a better education. Show me research that sates that statement is true.
Bob McQuillan October 04, 2012 at 07:21 PM
Eunice First, while the stipends for different functions are listed in the contract the question was asking to exclude stipend amounts from base pay. To my knowledge, there is no recap of stipend payments to individual teachers. Second, the district requires that we file a FOIA for a copy of their videotape. We then code the video so that you don't have to sit and listen to the entire meeting. You can quickly go to the area that interests you. This takes a couple of hours to complete. Prior to GenevaTaxFACTS filming our own video and posting it to our website, taxpayers could only watch the school board meetings on a small screen on the City of Geneva website once or twice per day at odd hours. Copying a meeting onto a CD should not cost anything other the the cost of the CD, which we would be happy to supply. The district is probably spending much more time sending the video to the outside company hosting it. An employee doesn't need to sit and watch the video as it is being copied. It is the district's decision to include the labor cost of the employee when they recap FOIA's.
Bob McQuillan October 04, 2012 at 10:19 PM
The question was "What does each teacher make on stipends?" Unless you can provide a list of a stipends by each teacher, the question can't be answered. As to the cost of providing the CD, you can decide for yourself if it should take two employees a total of 1 hour 55 minutes to provide a copy. As to my background, I'll share something. In 1999 & 2000, I volunteered on a weekly basis to help the Consumer Education teacher explain how new products are introduced to the market. I did it because, at the parent open house, it was clear that the teacher had no real life business experience. He told the parents that he had sold life insurance for 6 months and then started teaching. When I told him background, he asked if I could come in and explain to the class how product research, advertising, sales planning and market introduction worked. I did it for all of 1999 and half of 2000. So, yes I have an idea of what a teacher does. I have never questioned the education that my three children received in the Geneva district. But again, this issue is not over the quality of teachers we have or the hours that they put in. It doesn't matter what my background is. This issue is about finances and the burden that taxpayers have been carrying for more than 5 years. When someone demands that their employer give them a yearly salary increase, they have lost touch with reality. Who gets that today! I have not heard one good reason, other than they don't make enough, a raise is needed.
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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