Video Update: School Board Prepares 'Last Best Offer' to Geneva Teachers Union

The Geneva Board of Education meets in executive session to hash out its final offer to the Geneva Education Association. Parents, GEA members and tax watchdogs make brief statements during open session.

Geneva tax watchdogs, parents and members of the Geneva Education Association made a final plea during a short public comments period before the School Board adjourned to executive session Wednesday to discuss its "last best offer" to the teachers union.

School Board President Mark Grosso said previously that the board and the GEA have until Friday, Oct. 19, to submit their last best offers to the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board.

Grosso said Wednesday that School District 304 would post a timeline at www.geneva304.org, hopefully sometime Thursday, that expalins "what happens when, and where we go from here."

During the public comments portion of the meeting, which Grosso limited to a little more than 20 minutes, speakers representing both sides of the issue made statements in support of higher pay for teachers or for tighter fiscal management.

Dwight Swartwood argued in favor of holding the line on teacher salaries as "a matter of simple math." Considering the district's $300 million debt in principle and interest and a 2 percent compounded growth, Swartwood said Geneva taxes could double in the next 10 years. 

"We should act now to flatten the tax trajectory. If we don’t, we’re going to become non-competitive with other districts," he said. 

Steve Todd described the debt as "one heck of a problem here."

"I’m one of the silent majority," he said. "I don’t know how you’re going to address this problem, but I would encourage you as a citizen to take a stand—not just roll over and agree with what the teachers want." 

Chuck Miles, a husband of a speech pathologist in Geneva, said he and his family moved here 20 years ago because of the schools. He said there are "numerous studies that tell us the obvious"—that good quality schools translate to higher property values and a higher quality of life.

He asked the School Board to show students that "you can make a living being a teacher."

"We should use this as a motivation for our best and brightest to pursue teaching as a career," he said.

Carol Sanders noted the difference between "price" and "value." She supported the GEA's position and asked School Board members to consider "the value of living in Geneva in the long run."

Kim Lee, a math teacher and member of the GEA negotiating team, said the School District's email message via 304 Connects regarding the impasse gave the wrong impression that negiations weren't continuing, when in fact both sides are meeting again on Oct. 23.

Lee said both the School Board and the GEA use a "cost-out sheet" to determine accurate budget numbers and how money is spent in the district.

"As you know, our two sides have had many struggles over the continued use of this cost-out sheet," she said. "(But) we look forward to working with you on the 23rd to work out a mutually beneficial agreement."


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Tom Fortune October 18, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Tell your kid to man up....teachers wearing green shirts should not be alarming.
Pat L October 18, 2012 at 06:15 PM
You sound conflicted Melissa. Are you in favor of teachers and not the union? Because, I am pretty certain that all of these "qualified and enthusiastic teachers" that you are talking about, waiting in the wings. They will be part of the union as soon as they can. sooo... Another note... As you are creating a point of tension between your child and their teacher, why don't you do what Mr Miles said. He made a great point. Point out to your children what type of a career being a teacher will provide.
Angela Kane October 18, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Tom--That's a pretty insensitive ignorant comment to Melissa about what she and her son observed this morning. If that was me and my kid I'd probably confront the green shirts and tell them it was inappropriate to bring this to the school and confront the kids with this. But that's me. I think Melissa was trying to be a supportive protective parent. Back off teachers. Your green shirts are ticking people off and drawing negative attention. You should be smart enough to figure that out by now.
Kathy October 18, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Clearly you don't care about the kids Tom Fortune, or you wouldn't make such an assinine statement -- of course a bunch of teachers en masse wearing the same clothing and gathering where they usually don't gather is at very least disconcerting to a youngster who doesn't understand. YOU need to "man up" and take a pay freeze buddy. And quit biting the hand that feeds you.
Julie October 18, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Real classy, Tom. What a nice attitude you have. Why is it that most of the pro-increase posters on this site are the cruelest and quickest to be so ugly? That's really telling. Fortune doesn't fit you very well...how about MISFortune. You're so quick to judge that you probably just knocked a pretty intelligent kid who fears that his education is suffering because of all this nonsense. The teachers should be INSIDE preparing for the day @ 8:00 A.M., not wasting time in the parking lot pumping each other up..."for the children". Who else is this display for since it's before school? Further, if they are so busy grading papers and not able to watch the Bear's game that one teacher spoke of at the BOE meeting, then they should probably use their "work" time before school working. Okay, Misfotune...give it to me...I'm ready for the name calling to begin...or maybe I should just man up?
Lisa R October 18, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Tom, I certainly hope you are not a teacher as many of your comments imply. That's not the attitude I want instilled in my children! By the way, I noticed that you have been posting all day-on school time?
Kate Bennett October 18, 2012 at 07:05 PM
It's dangerous for all employees, union, non-union, public, private, highly comped, and so on, if we start allowing our pay to be measured in total comp, rather than our salaries.
David Franke October 18, 2012 at 07:08 PM
Tom: Maybe that kid could use a little escort. Maybe somebody, say, twice your size. And maybe you and your green shirt move briskly out of the way? Or maybe YOU man up tough guy.
Kate Bennett October 18, 2012 at 07:09 PM
And if it was me and my kids, I would tell my child that it's important for people to voice their concerns and demonstrate in whatever peaceful manner they feel will get their message across. I think that's an important lesson for children to learn, more important certainly than teaching them that anyone who feels strongly about something, and voices it, is dangerous and scary. That doesn't make either of us right. I am still trying to figure out what's so negative about a green shirt. What do you feel is the appropriate way for teachers to show their solidarity? Or should they just not do so?
Dave Larson October 18, 2012 at 07:15 PM
IF the child was apprehensive passing past a group of teachers, it may have been a result of being taught to fear them. Since Melissa also resorted to name-calling in her post, I’ll assume this is the case.
Jane October 18, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Okay - legitimate question here. If ou watch the video on this page, the second gentleman to speak talks about not wanting to eliminate sports, arts or programs for special needs students. I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment. But isn't the current negotiation just about the compensation package for the teacher's union? Arts, sports and special needs programs aren't on the table right? In fact, the more I thought about it, doesn't it stand to reason that if we increase the teacher salary/benefits package - that LESS money will be available for arts/sports/special needs?
David Franke October 18, 2012 at 08:01 PM
IF the child was apprehensive passing a group of teachers, it may have been a result of intimidation, strident comment or the fear people who aren't what they pretend to be. Then again it could be the parents fault. Yeah, probably best you assume it's the parents fault Dave.
Jim Radecki October 18, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Stop the madness. There have been no new facts or comments made in a long time. People are repeating the same things over and over just saying them slower and louder. Delaying a decison further will only contribute to more ill will. I was elected to 2 terms as an alderman in Geneva and understand the Board gets only one vote and it comes in a whole number not a fraction. That is what makes the responsibility so difficult. If this was put to a referendum I know which way it would go. Stop the debate and call the question Jim Radecki
someone who cares October 19, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Jim, Could we get your opinion as to which way this would go if there was a referendum? Do you think the Board will side with public sentiment?
Elaine Lane October 19, 2012 at 12:57 AM
Tom, seriously??? What a jerk comment to make.
Elaine Lane October 19, 2012 at 01:04 AM
Nicely put, David. I see Mr. MISFortune has been quiet for awhile. Maybe he crawled back under his rock.
Jim Radecki October 19, 2012 at 02:04 AM
My opinion, the voters would not support an increase with expenditures including salaries if it were put to a referndum. I have no opinion as to wether or not the Board would side with public sentiment or not. Maybe the Board and Union should seek binding arbitration with the voters acting as the mediator through referendum. That requires they both acknowledge the voters know what is best. Why not?
Bob McQuillan October 19, 2012 at 02:41 AM
Please verify in writing that the district pays the 9.4% towards the administrator's retirement fund. If you can't verify your statement in writing, please retract the statement.
Tom Fortune October 19, 2012 at 02:47 AM
Kathy...I don't even work for the district...I'm not biting anyone's hand.
Tom Fortune October 19, 2012 at 02:51 AM
You people make it sound like the teachers are gathering in the morning holding pitchforks in their hands spitting on the middle school aged kids as they come into school. My kid also goes to the middle school and he was not afraid to walk past his own teachers....
Tom Fortune October 19, 2012 at 02:53 AM
Angela...You would have confronted the teachers for wearing their green teaching shirts? I would have loved to see that train wreck. You had the opportunity at the board meeting to give all the teachers a piece of your mind as they walked through the door...Why not??
Tom Fortune October 19, 2012 at 02:59 AM
Nope Elaine....I'm still here! Thanks for checking on me. I feel so loved.
Jane October 19, 2012 at 03:00 AM
Rich - the thing is, the gentleman in the video (2nd guy to speak) seems like he was just a concerned parent and not a union shill. Is there actually a sentiment out there that the union contract has anything to do with programs at the schools? And can anyone comment on the possibility that increasing union pay will leave actually leave LESS money available to special needs, accelerated, arts, etc?
Jane October 19, 2012 at 03:06 AM
That actually seems like a very creative and fair solution. In reality, I don't see any possibility that the IEA is going to allow that precedent to be set.
Bob McQuillan October 19, 2012 at 05:12 AM
Tom Fortune wrote: 12:09 pm on Thursday, October 18, 2012 But now administrators don't have to pay 9.4% towards their retirement. The Board will pay it for them. I will make you a deal, if Tom or anyone else can prove in writing that the district pays the 9.4% towards administrators retirement I will never post on the Patch again. Come on Tom, you have challenged me on the numbers I have presented and I always answer the challenge. It is your turn to prove what you said is true. There is no gray area on this one, what you said is either true or false. Time for you to "man up" Tom.
Bob McQuillan October 19, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Yo Tom, come on we are waiting for you to show proof that the district (taxpayers) pay the 9.4% toward the administrators retirement. Time to man up, is what you said right or wrong? Do you owe the district, administrators and taxpayers an apology? You said it on two different comments so surely you have proof, right?
Lisa P October 19, 2012 at 04:43 PM
The Geneva teachers have opened a can of worms with their demands. Until this year, I’ve pretty much remained in the dark about teachers’ salaries/benefits, as I’m sure a lot of residents are. Keeping the pubic dumb is a great strategy for the union and its supporters. FOR EXAMPLE: 100% employer paid healthcare?! Are you kidding? If they want to be on par with private industry, then sharing the cost of the healthcare premium is a great first step! Even 10-15 years ago, I was paying a healthy share of my premium, and I worked for Fortune 50 companies. Expecting the taxpayers of District 304 to foot the healthcare bill for teachers is absurd!! The whole system needs reform! Wake up Teachers!
Terry Flanagan October 19, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Jim, You'll need a second on that and then two-thirds to concur. Good luck.
Bob McQuillan October 19, 2012 at 06:41 PM
So Tom Fortune can't prove what he said about the district paying the administrators retirement contribution. Is it any surprise? His buddies can't even help him on this one! Wonder what name he will be posting under now?
Thomas October 20, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Lisa, The only teachers who have 100% of their premiums covered by the district are individuals who choose the "HMO single coverage". Teachers who want family coverage must pay a monthly premium that varies from between $300-$700 a month depending on whether they want an HMO or PPO that requires "out of pocket" expenses by the employee. Of course the district does not pay any health insurance costs for those teachers who are covered under a spouses insurance from another employer. The district does offer those teachers up to $450 for the year, if they choose to use it, for eye examinations and other health related expenses. It would be interesting to see how many teachers in the district are actually receiving Single HMO (100% premium coverage) vs. HMO/PPO family coverage and Those covered by their spouses insurance.


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