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
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