School District 304's "final offer" issued a week ago and published today (Friday, Oct. 26) calls for a hard freeze during the first year of a three-year contact and an enhanced, pre-retirement salary hike that could incent more teachers to take that option during the next three years.
According to the document published Friday on the district's "negotiations webpage," teachers would continue to receive the same salary paid in 2011-12, with no cost-of-living increase, no 2.65 percent step increase and no opportunity for a "lane" salary increase payment this school year for completing courses in an advanced degree.
The board offer includes a $500 one-time, non-recurring stipend for those teachers who would qualify for lane movement.
Under the previous contract, teachers received a 2.65 percent salary increase for each eight hours of coursework completed toward a master's degree and a salary increase of more than 5 percent for coursework completed between a master's and doctorate.
"The board is mindful that this salary proposal is less than has been offered in prior years," School Board President Mark Grosso said in the text of the 25-page document. "It is a reflection of the fiscal challenges we face as a public school district.
"It is also a reflection of the sacrifice other employee groups within the district have been asked to make in the last several years. Every other district employee group has taken a salary freeze. We now ask the same of our teachers."
The board said teachers in some neighboring districts—including St. Charles—accepted a one-year pay freeze, something Geneva teachers were not asked to do during the previous three-year contract.
The Geneva Education Association's final offer, also submitted on Oct. 19, calls for a 1 percent pay increase, keeping the 2.65 percent step increase and no lane limitations during the 2012-13 school year.
For the 2013-14 school year, the board's "final offer" was a 1.40 percent salary increase with no step movement. However, teachers who qualify for lane movement could move as many as three lanes across the salary schedule.
The GEA final offer seeks the same as its first-year request: a 3.65 percent salary increase—1 percent salary increase plus a 2.65 percent step increase—and no lane limitations.
For 2014-15, the board proposed a step increase of 2.65 percent for all teachers but a zero percent cost-of-living increase. Teachers who qualify for lane movement would be allowed to move one lane.
The GEA's Oct. 19 proposal calls for a zero percent salary increase for half a year, followed by 2.65 percent salary increase for the second half of the year and no lane limits for the second half of the year. Grosso said previously that equates to a roughly a 1.3 percent annual increase in both the "step" and "lane" categories.
Another major bone of contention has been retirement benefits. The School Board's final offer includes a higher level of end-of-service salary hikes but not as high as the amount the GEA submitted in its final offer.
The School Board also clearly states its intent to "phase out" pension-padding salary bumps.
Under the previous three-year contract, teachers were eligible for a 6 percent salary hike on the year the teacher announces his or her retirement.
The GEA final offer seeks a pay increase of 6 percent or more during each of three years prior to retirement—for an overall salary increase of more than 20 percent.
Depending on when the teacher chooses to give notice, he or she would receive:
- 2013/2014: 6 percent increase over their prior year’s salary
- 2014/2015: increase based on the 2013/2014 average teacher salary increase
- 2014/2015: 6 percent increase over their prior year’s salary
"These end of career salary increases will expire at the end of this contract in August 2015," the document says.
It's important to note that both "final" offers aren't final. Documents were submitted Oct. 19, prior to a six-hour Tuesday meeting between the School Board and the GEA and both sides are meeting today (Friday, Oct. 26) to continue the talks.
"We have the highest esteem, admiration, and respect for our teachers," the board says in its salary proposal rationale. "Our teachers make our School District a nurturing and challenging place for our students, a great and lasting value for our parents, and a strong and vibrant institution within our community.
"(But) charged with the responsibility of being good stewards of taxpayer money, the board is seeking a teacher contract which will not compromise the long-term solvency of the district. This is an obligation that we owe all taxpayers in our community."
Board Salary Cost Summary
The district’s salary schedule costs for 2011/2012 were $27,248,068.
Under the board's final offer, the projected costs are as follows:
- 2012-13: $27,248,750
- 2013-14: $27,630,233
- 2014-15: $28,276,813
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