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Geneva Teachers Give Notice of Intent to Strike

After a day-long negotiating session, the School Board and GEA get closer to resolution but salaries remain the sticking point.

Geneva School Board President Mark Grosso delivered the sad news in a brief telephone conversation around 10:30 p.m. Friday, after a long day of negotiations with the Geneva Education Association.

"Despite progress on several of the issues, the GEA has given notice of its intent to strike," Grosso said.

The soonest date that a strike could take place is Nov. 9.

The next mediation session has tentatively been set for Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Grosso said he felt the negotiations made tremendous progress and both sides were close to agreement on many of the major points outlined in the final offers posted by the School Board and the GEA—with one important exception.

"Salary is the issue, I can tell you that," Grosso said.

The board and the union have been meeting since February, with the aid of a federal mediator since July, in an effort to successfully negotiate a contract. The previous contract expired Aug. 15.

Friday's meeting between the Board of Education, GEA and a federal mediator lasted nearly 12 hours, according to a School District 304 press release.

"The board remains committed to negotiating an agreement that is good for students, fair to teachers, and fiscally responsible. The board also remains hopeful that union members will continue to work until an agreement is reached," the press release said. "Given the notice filed today, however, it would be negligent of the district not to plan in advance for the possibility of a strike. 

"The School Board will prepare a strike plan, detailing how it will communicate with parents and the community regarding plans during a possible strike.  District officials will make every effort to keep the Geneva 304 community informed through the district’s emergency notification system, 304Connects emails, and the board’s negotiations webpage." 

The GEA's final offer, submitted Oct. 19, sought a 1 percent cost-of-living increase plus a 2.65 percent "step" and no limits on "lane" increases for the first year of a three-year contract.

Each lane increase—granted for completion of eight hours of advanced-degree course work—increases salaries by 2.65 percent up to a master's degree and more than 5 percent after a master's degree.

The School Board's Oct. 19 final offer sought a hard freeze for the 2012-13 school year.

The District 304 press release underlined that the Oct. 19 final offer "does not reflect the conversations that have taken place between the board and the union since the declaration of impasse two weeks ago."

 

Oct. 19 GEA Final Salary Offer

 

2012/2013 — Certified Staff will be given step and lane movement with an addition of 1% to the salary schedule.

2013/2014 — Certified staff will be given step and lane movement with an addition of 1% to the salary schedule.

2014/2015 — Certified staff will take a pay freeze for the first half of the year. In the second half of the year certified staff will be given step and lane movement.

Oct. 19 School Board Final Salary Offer

 

2012/2013 — 0% increase to salary schedule; no step increase; no lane movement, but a one- time, non-recurring $500 stipend for those teachers that would qualify for lane movement

2013/2014 — 1.40% increase to the salary schedule; no step increase; teachers who qualify may move as many as three (3) lanes across salary schedule

2014/2015 — 0% increase to salary schedule; step increase (2.65%); teachers who qualify may move across one (1) lane only

 

Related Articles

 

  • Reports: GEA Members Authorize Strike; Nov. 9 Earliest Possible Strike
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  • UPDATE: Geneva School Board Calls Special Meeting to Discuss Teacher Negotiations
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  • Patch Poll: How Much of An Increase Should Geneva Teachers Get?
  • Batavia Teachers Get Raises in New Two-Year Contract; Geneva Still Negotiating
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  • State Teachers Union Announces Geneva Talks at Impasse
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  • District 304: GEA's 'Final Offer' Calls for 18% Salary Hike in Final 3 Years Before Retirement
  • Teacher Talks Resume Friday; Here's the Timeline If an Agreement Isn't Reached
  • Geneva School Board's 'Final Offer' Made Public
  • Geneva Teachers Give Notice of Intent to Strike
Angela Kane October 27, 2012 at 08:51 PM
And here's another story-- http://www.workforce.com/article/20121024/NEWS01/121029975/illinois-pension-plans-on-road-to-ruin-report
Bob McQuillan October 27, 2012 at 08:56 PM
This situation did not develop overnight & there is a reason many Illinois districts have been forced to deal with teacher strikes this year. The sleeping giant trusted that the educational system was working "for the children." That trust has been violated. There is a lot of blame to go around; the teachers who didn't speak up, the unions that kept demanding more, the elected officials that accepted IEA contributions, the administrators who were along for the ride, past school boards who rubber stamped everything, & the sleeping giant (community) that never questioned the spending frenzy. Well, it's a new day and the sleeping giant has awoken to a mess that must be fixed. Make no mistake, it will be fixed. The question is whether or not Geneva will take the lead in finding a solution. The GEA has made the decision to give notice of a strike, they must take responsibility for their actions. The BOE, who represents the entire community, must (and probably has) prepare a plan based on the GEA decision. It is the community's responsibility to truly act in the "best interest of the children." GenevaTaxFACTS has held two town hall meetings in the last 6 months to inform the community on school matters. I would suggest the BOE do the same within the next week by communicating their strike plan with the community. The district has their own communication network, but I offer the www.genevataxfacts.org site for whatever the Geneva COMMUNITY School District 304 needs.
Arthur Dietrich October 27, 2012 at 09:04 PM
Jim, I agree with every thing you've stated except the negative generalizations about the striking teachers. Like you say, we'll see what we see.
Arthur Dietrich October 27, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Mark Grosso, BOE President was quoted in today's Daily Herald about why it's taking so long for the resolution.
Arthur Dietrich October 27, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Pension spiking is reprehensible. I'm ashamed I haven't been a more involved and knowledgeable tax paying citizen to have voiced objections to this years ago.
Angela Kane October 27, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Dittos on the "awakened a sleeping giant" quote from a poster above. I suspect much of the good will and support the teachers believe they have has waned as people have read the stories about the contract demands the GEA has made and the salaries they currently earn and the raises they are demanding along with other benefits. If you drive through Geneva you won't find many of those "love Geneva teachers" signs in yards. If teachers do go on strike I suspect parents will lose patience.
Arthur Dietrich October 27, 2012 at 09:24 PM
From what I've read it appears the GEA has decided further negotiations are fruitless.
George Jackowiec October 27, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Many of my neighbors are talking about this and are amazed at the fact that the GEA has taken a strike authorization vote. Now the board needs to act. As Bob M. mentioned, we hope the BOE reaches out to the parents and taxpayers of Geneva to assist them in maintaining an educational environment for our kids while the BOE does their best at trying to settle this situation. I hope everyone who has made comments on this site volunteers their time in helping the BOE in this difficult time. Talk to your neighbors; volunteer your time. Let's make sure we provide the Board the support they need to maintain financial stability in a town where the financial situation is continuing to worsen.
Arthur Dietrich October 27, 2012 at 09:31 PM
Mr. Walsh I agree that the vast majority of teachers deserve every dime they earn. Unfortunately, the community has run out of dimes.
Geneva Vikings October 27, 2012 at 09:42 PM
Stand up for the community BOE! It's time for a reality check. Many of us are hardworking families that have also faced the salary restrictions that the recession has brought (or at least those that still have their jobs have). We need you to represent us.
George Jackowiec October 27, 2012 at 10:08 PM
This is a quote from the Rueter's article that Angela references above: "Jerry Stermer, Illinois' budget director, said on Wednesday he expects state lawmakers to take up pension reform legislation during a lame-duck session in early January. He also said Quinn is backing legislation that would phase in over 12 years the responsibility of individual school districts to make payments into TRS that are currently made by the state." The BOE needs to figure out how to pay for the ever increasing $309MM DEBT service payments and any pension reform coming from the state in addition to its existing $93MM budget. (Does anyone else think the State Legislators will "kick the preverbial can down the road" of the state pension contributions to us? Count on it!!) The BOE is not being "hard headed" or "insensitive" to the requests of the teachers. They are doing what they have sworn to do. Things are definitely going to get challenging.
Robert Jr. October 27, 2012 at 10:34 PM
My understanding is that this situation has been created by the union leaders... apparently there are a lot of teachers who questioned the idea of pushing too hard in the first place, but the union demanded it of its members. Rumor has it that many of those teachers are very upset with the union representatives, but are unable to say so publicly for fear of being blacklisted. If I was a teacher reading this, I would seriously ask yourself if the union did you a service or if they are pushing their own agenda and did you a disservice. The teachers are doing what they have been led to believe is the right thing to do on behalf of all of their union members - but they do still have the time to tell their union bosses that the union is seriously miscalculating this one... The union used Obama's election as a means to extort payback for votes, threatening to strike his home town and embarass him if they did not get the demands they require to buy their votes. Holding community education hostage... for votes... Teachers Union.
Robert Jr. October 27, 2012 at 10:45 PM
FYI- Who would have thought that the times we live in would have these headlines... just to keep perspective: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/27/broke-cities_n_2025731.html#slide=more259764
Jennifer Cortez October 27, 2012 at 10:53 PM
Oh boy RG, your remark couldn't be further from the truth. Yes, we both work, but it is out of necessity not greed. I have only worked full-time for the last two years and that is because I have a senior this year and I would like to help him with his college tuition. Our house is in the older part of Geneva, only about 1700 sq. feet, we drive a 2000 Saturn and a 2001 Ford Winstar. Fashion trends? Target and Kohls thank you very much! Neither of my kids are involved in sports. Music lessons, but not sports. Please think before you open your keyboard and spew forth stereotypes that simply aren't true. (By the way, the majority of my Geneva friends live the same way we do).
G.Ryan October 28, 2012 at 01:09 AM
How about a librarian making over $100,000 do we need that? All these salaries are inflated.
Melissa October 28, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Just got a chance to watch Mrs. Young's video. Mrs. Young indicates that without an increase in base salary we will not be able to attract "the best" teachers. I'm tired of the claims that it is because of the "best" teachers that 304 scores high on ACT and report cards. My 304 grad got a high ACT score after attending a months-long ACT prep class at Huntington in Geneva...you know, where the 304 kids are seen streaming in and out every year at ACT test taking time. Same child got a high GPA by working very hard and having a tutor in math junior year since the math teacher was indeed not a good teacher at all. Mrs. Young's distorted description of the "corporate world" makes me cringe. My husband works in the "corporate world". He works 10 hours a day, 6 days a week and has had a freeze now for 2 years. He doesn't complain because he knows he is lucky to have a job and be able to provide for his family the best that he can. I'm so thankful for the BOE for drawing the "line in the sand". Please hold the line! As for the bologna about the wondrous things advanced degrees afford our children: "A wide body of research demonstrates that there is no relationship between an advanced degree and classroom performance...not one of the 34 studies identified found a positive relationship between a teacher having a master's degree and student achievement." Hanushek/Rivkin, New York Daily News, 8/2012.
Max October 28, 2012 at 02:30 AM
"Keep the good teachers" is what we'll do. The rest will be out on strike, indefinitely.
Max October 28, 2012 at 02:33 AM
We do see a few of those signs, but watch how rapidly their numbers dwindle if the teachers walk.
Lisa P October 28, 2012 at 10:58 AM
Bravo! Well said, Melissa! BOE, the community is behind you, hold firm!
Julie October 28, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Strange, I responded to this yesterday but don't see it. I certainly don't want you to think that your threat of reporting me has frightened me. Btown-I didn't lie...I offered an opinion. IF I would have written that you ARE a teacher at Williamsburg, that would have been a lie. I'm entitled to my thoughts and opinions just as you are here. Now, if you prove me wrong I will be glad to write a formal apology right here. I'll even say that I'm sorry now if I am wrong, but I don't think I am.
Geneva Vikings October 28, 2012 at 03:11 PM
The teachers want credit for all of the success, but want to blame parents for any poorly achieving students. You can't have it both ways. I have children in the district and have been less than impressed with some of the teachers including the GEA leader and have found others to be excellent. How can the successful students be a reflection of the teachers skills and the struggling students be a reflection of their parental negligence?
Jen Marsh October 28, 2012 at 04:13 PM
"the current system in New York City and across the nation fails to distinguish between the best teachers and the worst ones. Typically, more than 98% of teachers are identified as “Satisfactory” or above according to their official evaluations. Nor is a teacher’s compensation based on any consideration of performance. Public school teachers are paid exclusively based on the number of advanced degrees they have earned and the number of years they have spent in the classroom — two factors that research shows are unrelated to classroom effectiveness." http://articles.nydailynews.com/2012-01-16/news/30633575_1_performance-pay-teacher-quality-matters-classroom-effectiveness
Jen Marsh October 29, 2012 at 03:05 PM
http://geneva.patch.com/articles/jeff-ward-get-a-grip-people-it-s-a-negotiation Author of article states, "It doesn’t matter, because they didn’t ask me." Okay...
Kelli Trejo October 29, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Our teachers are important, no doubt about it. I send my children to school because I am unable to teach them myself. We are a two income family and our nearly every one of our children's teachers make more than my husband and I do individually, yet still I am happy to pay them because my children are my future, as well as our community's future. Additionally, the teachers' level of education plays an indirect role in the value of our houses. When we moved 11 years ago, we looked for the best local school districts and chose our home, in the Geneva School District, accordingly. I firmly believe that decent pay finds decent teachers. Excellent pay finds excellent teachers. And excellent teachers providing excellent education to our children, need too to be well educated. That said, they can only be paid with money that is there. Fiscal responsiblity is a lesson many adults seem not to have learned??? I ask our teachers to think before they act. Many of our teachers are community members as well. They've seen first hand the effects of the economy - the heartache of families forced to move out of our district after losing jobs and/or foreclosure, and the effect that has on the district's financial situation. The Board has not asked much. I support and love my teachers but stand behind the Board. As parents, we sometimes have to say no, even when it hurts us to do so. And today, we must say no to our teachers and hope, as we do with our kids, that they make the right decision.
Virginia Miller October 29, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Kelli, well said! Your comments probably reflect the feelings of many, if not most, of the parents of Geneva students and are respectful of the teachers who are working hard to educate them. I hope the board and the union can come to a decision that uses this type of thinking and avoids the knee jerk us-against-them thoughts we've seen in so many of the comments here.
LMS October 29, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Kelli- Although I agree with your overall view on things, I feel that you should rethink what you are saying about salary indicating how great a teacher is. There are tons of dedicated professionals that care about children in underperforming schools that work there to make a difference and not to make a larger salary. As a teacher who worked in a struggling district for 3 years, I would conclude that Geneva teachers have it quite nice. Most students come prepared with supplies, have eaten breakfast (let alone dinner the night before), and have parents willing to come in and help. EVERY SCHOOL has both great and not so great teachers... SALARY DOES NOT MAKE THE TEACHER.
Victor Viking October 30, 2012 at 03:15 AM
Let's hope the process works itself out quickly. For those of you on here questioning whether or not you can have a meeting with the BOE, I'm not sure of the process, but I do know that we, the people of Geneva, voted them onto to Board. That's our part of the process. If we don't like the end result, we make our voices heard at the next election. One more thing, I'm not pro-teacher or pro-Board, I'm pro-student. I see valid arguments on both sides and yet, I lean towards being fiscally responsible. You can't spend what you do not have. Mr. McQuillan, or anyone else with more experience with financials, any chance of restructuring the debt (refinance, like a home mortgage comes to mind as an example) with a lower interest rate? For all of you, I'm not looking to get into a shouting match like most of what I've seen on the comment feeds about this issue. I may not agree with what your stance is, but I respect your right to express it.
Holy Moly!!! October 30, 2012 at 12:01 PM
This entire situation is very damaging to our students. Far beyond teaching a specific curriculum, teachers have a very unique position, and are frequently admired by the children they teach. They are mentors and advisors to our society's young people. What are the students of D304 learning from their teachers? They are learning to be unreasonable. They are learning to be inflexible. They are learning not to look at the circumstances and understand the issues at hand. They are learning not to have empathy during hardships. We are in a recession. Many students have unemployed family members. Many students have lost their homes. Many students parents are working two jobs to make ends meet. Some students have parents who work as ancillary staff, who have had to accept pay freezes. Simply put, a VERY BAD EXAMPLE by the Geneva teachers and their union. Disheartened.
Jen Marsh October 30, 2012 at 12:42 PM
agree.
Rick Nagel (Editor) October 31, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Julie: I had a conversation and traded emails with one of the male teachers at Williamsburg Elementary, and he says with certainty and conviction that none of those gentlemen are posting as "btown95." Hope that helps and ends the speculation.

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