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School Board: Union's 'Rigid Stance' Kept Parties Apart for Months; GEA Responds

Document says union leaders "postponed negotiations for the entire month of May and much of June," but GEA says many statements unclear or incorrect.

In the Geneva School Board's "final offer" submitted on Oct. 19 and posted Oct. 26, Board President Mark Grosso says in a cover letter to GEA President Carol Young the union failed to live up to a signed confidentiality agreement and dragged its heels for three months of the negoiating process.

The Geneva Education Association countered on its website that the GEA adhered to the confidentiality agreement until the start of mediation, as required, and that there were specific reasons for the delays, including that union negotiators were uncomfortable with the district's preferred format.

The GEA says many of the statements made in the board's final offer letter require clarification or outright correction.

The following is the full text of the letter from School Board President Mark Grosso to GEA President Carol Young, with the GEA's clarifications and corrections inserted.

Additional GEA clarifications and corrections were posted regarding the full text of the School Board's final offer. To see all of those, visit gea4students.org and compare to the School District 304 final offer draft on the district's negotiations webpage.

It is important to note that there have been several meetings between the two groups since Oct. 19, and the parties have come closer to agreement on some issues.

The GEA announced Friday (Oct. 26) its intent to strike, which could take place as soon as Nov. 9.

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Dear Ms. Young:

Enclosed you will find the final offer submitted by the Geneva Board of Education pursuant to Section 12 of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (“IELRA”). Pursuant to the IELRA, the parties must submit their final offers to each other, the mediator and the IELRB within seven days following the declaration of impasse, along with a cost summary of that offer. Please note that “final” is a term used within the context of the IELRA and it not does indicate the Board’s unwillingness to continue negotiations and reach an agreement. However, in the event that we are unable to reach an agreement by October 26, pursuant to the IERLA, both our offer and the GEA’s offer will be posted on the IELRB website.

At the commencement of negotiations, the Board and GEA agreed to keep negotiations confidential based on the belief that bargaining is most productive and effective when those conversations remain at the bargaining table. The Board has honored that commitment. To be quite honest, we do not feel that commitment has been reciprocated by the GEA. Specifically, numerous references have been made to the Board’s proposal of a hard freeze, both by you to the media and by teachers during public comment at Board meetings. The Board is also very concerned about the GEA’s overt effort to engage parents in the negotiations process even prior to declaring impasse. In order to resolve the outstanding issues, we feel that frank and open conversations between the parties are crucial, particularly in this coming week. We hope that you feel the same and will renew the GEA’s commitment to confidentiality of the negotiations process until offers are made public, if that becomes necessary.

GEA Clarification: The GEA adhered to the confidentiality agreement until the beginning of mediation. In negotiations, confidentiality agreements are no longer valid once mediation has been requested.

Before addressing our final offer, it may be beneficial to give a brief overview of the negotiations process from the Board’s perspective, as well as some background behind the offer.

Negotiations Overview

 

This District has a long history of utilizing Interest Based Bargaining (“IBB”) in negotiations. IBB has been the preferred method of bargaining due to its emphasis on collaboration and joint resolution of issues, rather than traditional bargaining which is generally more adversarial, as it relies primarily on posturing and exchanging position statements. In standard IBB, the parties exchange their issues during the first few sessions. Language issues are typically addressed first and once agreement is reached on each language issue (through a process of identifying the concern and jointly developing a resolution to address that concern), the parties sign off on that agreement and proceed to the next issue until all language issues are complete. At that point, the parties typically turn their focus to economic issues.

(i) Now, as you know, in previous negotiations, the District has developed its own modified version of IBB in which sub-committees comprised of GEA and Board members were formed. (ii) Each sub- committee was assigned language and/or economic issues at the outset (although the more difficult economic issues such as salary and retirement were addressed last and by the entire group) and were charged with the task of reaching agreement on those issues and then presenting their joint resolution to the entire group for approval. This IBB format proved to be very effective and allowed the teachers and the Board to gain trust and momentum at the front-end of the negotiations process so that when the more difficult economic issues were addressed, there was a solid foundation to build upon. Over the past twenty years using Geneva’s modified IBB format, every contract has been negotiated and ratified before the first day of school.

(i) GEA Clarification: Use of sub-groups outside of compensation were only a part of the negotiation for the 2009-2012 contract. As was made clear in the pre-negotiation meetings, the GEA was uncomfortable continuing in this format due to the number of instances in which agreements were not honored.

(ii) GEA Correction: During previous negotiations a sub-group on compensation began working at the outset of negotiations and presented to the group early in the process before language issues were agreed upon. It is true that later in the process the group presented options, but both teams had an accurate financial picture the entire time they worked to consensus on language issues.

During these negotiations, however, at your insistence, there was limited use of sub-committees and instead increased use of the standard IBB process. While the use of the standard IBB process in and of itself is not an issue, during the first three months of negotiations, the GEA refused to agree and sign off on any language issues proposed by the Board and even some proposed by the GEA, stating instead that it would not agree to anything until compensation was finalized. Consequently, while 15 issues were originally presented by the parties when we began bargaining this year, and despite numerous hours invested by the seven Board members from February through April, only two issues have been signed off on, both of which were proposed by the GEA. Because of this rigid stance, no sense of trust or accomplishment was allowed to develop between the parties during those first few months. As you can imagine, this has caused a great deal of frustration for the Board.

GEA Correction: During the first three months, the GEA reached two tentative agreements with the Board on working conditions. The GEA also agreed to the use of limited sub-groups on contract language issues and special education issues. GEA worked in good faith on all issues. It should be noted that the School Board put off the discussion on fair share until compensation was settled.

(i) Nonetheless, since economic issues were of such great importance to the GEA, the Board reluctantly agreed to postpone negotiations for the entire month of May and much of June until your union finance representative from the IEA-NEA could attend on June 21. Then, on June 27 we met and you presented the GEA’s first formal salary proposal. I verbally provided the Board’s response, after which we agreed to take a 15 minute break. Upon return, you promptly handed us a letter requesting mediation.
(ii) Nearly a month went by before we were able to arrange the first mediation session, as you were on vacation for most of July.

(i) GEA Correction: A sub-group on compensation continued to meet throughout May.

(ii) GEA Correction: The June 21st date was the first date that could be mutually agreed upon by theBoard of Education, Geneva Education Association, the IEA-NEA finance representative and the district consultant from PMA.

In mediation, the parties identified six economic issues and numerous proposals have been traded on those issues. They are:

1) Salary Schedule 2) Tuition Reimbursement 3) Health Insurance 4) Retirement 5) Sick Leave 6) GEA Release Time

During mediation, we met once to try to resolve language issues, only to be informed once again that the GEA would not sign off on anything until economic issues are resolved. While we felt that we were getting closer to resolving those economic issues with the help of our federal mediator, the GEA filed impasse on October 12, at which point we commenced preparation of this offer.

GEA Correction: The GEA disagrees with the Board’s perception that we were getting closer therefore we declared impasse. Our declaration of impasse in no way means that we no longer wish to continue negotiating.

Financial Overview

 

It goes without saying that these are unprecedented economic times. During the 2009/2010 school year, as it became increasingly clear that the economy was not showing signs of improving, the Board of Education held several forums with various stakeholders including teachers, other employees and community members to analyze ways to make budget cuts which would impact students only as a last resort. Deep spending cuts have been made over the past three years. To this end, every other employee group in this District has taken a salary freeze at some point over the course of the GEA’s most recent three year contract. Because of these measures, the District has not been forced to reduce, or lay off, teachers.

GEA Clarification: This statement is misleading. The non-unionized groups (everyone else) do not have a meaningful voice in their negotiation. Also, only 14 of 28 administrators have taken a hard freeze.

Teachers in neighboring districts, including St. Charles, have taken a hard salary freeze for an entire school year. Teachers in other districts, including Kaneland, agreed to re-open contracts to renegotiate salaries. This Board did not ask the GEA to reopen its contract and instead decided to honor its previous contract with the GEA which allowed for healthy salary increases over each of the previous three years. We do not think it is unreasonable to ask the District’s teachers to share the sacrifice that every other employee group has made in this District and accept a one year salary freeze.

GEA Clarification: The teachers in these districts had to take a hard freeze because their districts did not have sufficient funds in reserve. They were facing the prospect of cuts to programs and staff. This is not the case in Geneva.

With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the District has only just begun navigating the reforms that are necessary to ensure compliance with the Act and avoid taxes that may result, should the District be deemed to be offering “Cadillac” health insurance plans. Another potential drain on the District’s finances is the State’s current pension system. Due to the State’s underfunding of the pension system in conjunction with school districts across the State inflating teachers’ salaries in the years preceding retirement, the legislature with the support of the Governor has proposed shifting the cost of pensions to local school districts. This alone would be a significant added expense to the District in coming years. Compared to other districts, Geneva has been relatively conservative with pre-retirement salary increases. However, not only is our current retirement plan unsustainable, this Board has a philosophical issue with continuing to boost pre-retirement salaries in an effort to inflate teacher pensions. Our current retirement plan must be phased out over the course of this contract.

Another philosophical issue this Board has is with taxpayers subsidizing the GEA’s union activities. In light of all of the spending cuts that have been made, the Board cannot continue to justify paying the GEA President a full day’s salary for half a day’s work so that the other half of the day can be devoted to union activities. While that time may be necessary to complete union duties, the GEA membership, and not the taxpayers of this District, should be responsible for paying that portion of the GEA President’s salary. In that same vein, the Board feels union membership is an individual right and that each teacher should be able to choose whether they want a portion of their paycheck to fund union activities. For that reason, the Board is opposed to requiring teachers that have opted not to join the GEA/IEA-NEA to pay a “fair share” payment out of their paycheck as a condition of employment.

GEA Clarification: This statement implies that association activicties have no benefit to our district. The value of this release time for the GEA President is great given the limited opportunities for communication between staff and the administration. This release time manifests itself through the resolution of conflicts between the staff and the administration before they would result in grievances being filed. Avoidance of grievances is a positive both for the health of the staff/administrator relationship and for the reduced consultation with lawyers retained by the district.

 Finally, given the economic uncertainty that faces us, maintaining the District’s reserves at a healthy level is absolutely essential. (i) To this end, Board Policy requires the District to maintain its reserves at a minimum of 30% of its average annual expenditures, which it has done. These reserves allow the District to pay its obligations between tax collections and when, as has recently been the case, the State decreases or is late in making its payments to the District. (ii) These reserves also enable the District to maintain an excellent bond rating which, in turn, gives the District flexibility to restructure its debt obligations (currently in excess of $300 million including principal and interest) to provide relief to taxpayers. (iii) If the District dips into its reserves to pay increased salaries this year, it will have to: 1) continue to dip into reserves year after year; 2) increase the tax levy; and/or 3) cut educational programming. The Board does not see any of these options as viable.

(i) GEA Clarification: While this is the board policy, it should also be noted that this is also above the state recommendation of 180 days of operating costs.

(ii) GEA Clarification: When referring to the minutes from the April 13th meeting, the debt was at $153 million.

(iii) Correction: The district does not need to dip into the reserves when it is operating with a $3.15 million surplus in the education fund.

General Points

Before turning to our specific proposal, I would also like to take the opportunity to briefly respond to some of the statements that have been made by various GEA members regarding negotiations.

• The Board’s inability to give teachers the raises that the union is proposing in no way indicates a lack of respect for our teachers. The Board has the utmost respect for the work our teachers do for our children and recognizes the role that teachers have played in the District’s receipt of various awards. The attached proposal is the best financial proposal that the Board can offer at this time.

• As a Board, we value the input of all stakeholders. The suggestion that our bargaining position has been unduly influenced by any special interest group is an insult to the seven Board members that took an oath to act in the best interests of the entire community.

• Geneva has never tried to be the highest paid District in the county. We have kept our compensation package competitive and feel that the current proposal remains competitive. We have never had a problem attracting and retaining quality teachers and do not expect to under the current proposal. We believe the reasons for this include a competitive compensation package, including tuition reimbursement and health care benefits; safe and well-maintained facilities; the Board’s commitment to low class sizes; technology upgrades the Board has provided at the urging of its teachers; the school-home partnership embraced by our families; and the support of public education by our community.

GEA Correction: See charts attached to this article.

On a final note, please be aware that following an extensive closed session discussion, the entire Board of Education voted unanimously in open session on October 17, 2012 to approve the contents of this letter and the enclosed offer. We feel that it is a fair offer and it is our sincere hope that the GEA will give it careful consideration.

 

Yours Truly,

Mark Grosso
President Geneva Board of Education

 

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MTG October 29, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Disappointed - if you are a tax payer you have every right to be heard on your opinion, but until then...... not really!
Michail Gomberg October 29, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Does anyone have unbiased information on the nature of the education fund surplus?
Max October 29, 2012 at 03:55 PM
@ Cody, You've got it backwards. The community supported teachers unquestioningly -- until the GEA insulted the community, and embarrassed the teachers. The truth is, there will be no offers from other districts. Also, you can save the locker-room terminology for a non-public forum. But then you probably don't know the difference.
Phillip G Walker October 29, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Disappointed, I have to say that I appreciate your passion for those in the teaching profession. My children were the benefactors of teachers who love what they do. I have a great deal of respect for good teachers. I have no doubt that the passion that comes out in your words will be focused on a classroom full of students. I wish you much success. The reality, as others speak of here, is one of money and unions. Funds are tight and it's not clear to me that the union is acting in the best interest of the teachers by taking such a hard line. The sad thing, IMHO, is that good teachers, who may not even agree with the union, are getting caught in the middle. People, myself included, can be quick to judge at times. I hope you continue the enthusiasm and that when you do find a teaching job, you will be allowed to do just that while working unincombered with the community in which you live to find economic balance.
Bailey October 29, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Teachers should be paid fairly for what they do. Before you decide if that is happening, take a look at what their salaries are - that information is available online for any state employee. Be mindful that the job is SEASONAL, and the benefits including pension are generous - and paid by the taxpayers (and their children). The contribution to those benefits by teachers are minimal. Oh, and increases are automatic and have no bearing on performance. Compare that to your wages and benefits for your FULL TIME job and then decide who is underpaid.
Phillip G Walker October 29, 2012 at 04:54 PM
It would be interesting to know just how much time good teachers spend preparing materials for class, planning activities, grading papers and entering information on-line. I suspect it varies depending on the grade level you teach. The higher grades (5-12) require an increasing amount of time. I do know, from talking with some of the teachers, that time is spent on house projects that couldn't be tackled during the school year. Some take classes to learn new ways to teach so they can reach more of their students. Some are already planning projects for the next school term. Please don't get me wrong. We still have to balance the check book at the end of the school year. But I've heard the term "seasonal" come up a number of times and I'm not sure that good teachers consider what they do a seasonal job. Maybe we should have a "Day in the life of" some time in the future so we can see where the time goes. Maybe it will identify new areas were others can help out.
Bob McQuillan October 29, 2012 at 05:01 PM
I would assume that a report filed with the state of Illinois would be considered unbiased. Below is a link to the District 2012-13 school budget. https://www.geneva304.org/d304_finances/documents/2012-13_Adopted_Budget.pdf It recaps both the yearly budget surplus (deficit) and overall fund reserves. The numbers are below. There is a deficit this year because reserve funds are being used for capital expenses (football field, maintenance on buildings & technology improvements). 2012-13 budget - reflects a $4.0 million deficit spend in the overall budget Education Fund $3.2 million Operations & Maintenance ($2.4 million) Debt Service ($600,000) Transportation ($4.2 million) Total ($4.0 million) Expected Fund Reserves as of 6/3013 Education $22.1 million O&M $6.3 million Debt Sevice $6.0 million Transportation $2.5 million Retirement $1.9 million Working Cash $14.9 million Total $53.0 million Outstanding Debt Service $306 million Reserve Funds should be used on debt service repayments not day-to-day operations.
Rick Anderson October 29, 2012 at 05:13 PM
@ disappointedgenevaresident too bad we won't know who we could of had teaching our children because you do not have the fortitude to share even half your name. Please consider a life changing teaching experience within the inner schools of Chicago. Your zest for a teaching profession isn't slighted at all....maybe an experience like that will broaden your mind and senses.
Bob McQuillan October 29, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Cody You are assuming that taxpayers in other "higher paying" districts are happy with the amount they are paying their teachers. It is a proven point that districts play the "look what the other districts pay" against each other. When Batavia pays more, every other union points out that they are underpaid, so they get an increase. The next year Batavia's union points to the "other" districts and says, "look we are underpaid." And the circle continues. Well the circle has stopped, not reversed, just stopped. If Geneva holds the line this year, Batavia & St. Charles will do the same at the end of their current contract. That is the real problem, the IEA is fearful that if Geneva falls, so do the other districts. If the membership is unhappy with the GEA's final offer, they need to tell the union. If the union doesn't listen, they need to band together and tell the community they don't agree with the union.
Bob McQuillan October 29, 2012 at 05:25 PM
disappointed genevaresident Since you feel you understand the situation; what compromises should the GEA agree to. The GEA has requested that the BOE compromise but has offered no public compromise themselves. Since you are getting ready to graduate, your last statement doesn't make any sense. Any young person graduating with an education degree that eliminates ANY school district has not experienced the pain of not being able to obtain a full-time teaching position. I certainly hope you have a "connection" with another district because that is the only way you will obtain a teaching position immediately after graduating. Chances are are you will need to take an aide position or sub for a number of years.
Michail Gomberg October 29, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Bob, thank you for the info. I look it over closely. I do have to respectfully disagree with your statement about reserve funds being used for day to day operations. Having been a treasurer before and having some financial experience I can say that reserve funds have multiple uses, which is exactly why they have separate reserve accounts. Some reserves are put aside for known future capital expenses like expected maintenance, retirement benefits for future retirees, etc. These reserves should never be used for anything but their designated purpose. In the case of a shortfall in those accounts you have to fall back to your cash reserves which should be large enough to account for unexpected events. Having said that, you can't run a budget in pieces. True that the education fund is running a surplus this year, but that surplus is an accounting fiction because we are facing future operating deficits. The only way to balance the books without increased revenue is to take from the surplus accounts and feed the deficits. This isn't rocket science. The future education fund has to get smaller due to lower property values and tax receipts and I would venture that's exactly what the board is trying to address.
Bob McQuillan October 29, 2012 at 05:44 PM
BEO members attend PTO meetings on a regular basis. How many teachers attend your PTO meeting on a regular basis. I would bet only when they want something. The BOE members do it at no charge to the district.
Max October 29, 2012 at 06:58 PM
For at least the 99th time -- it is not about the work, the hours or the personalities. It is about the bucks, pure and simple. And GEA have chosen to make it that way. Geneva tax-payers will not pay more, for something they could get for less -- especially to a group who's primary "negotiating" technique is coercion.
Max October 29, 2012 at 07:02 PM
...and ID's and everything else associated with their former employment. They should not be allowed to come back.
Elaine Lane October 29, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Dear Disappointed, Come on back to Geneva and buy a house. Start paying the property taxes. You don't live in the "real world" yet so don't be telling the property owners in Geneva how to feel.
David Franke October 29, 2012 at 09:34 PM
There is only one "correction" that needs to be made, elimination of the GEA and its supporters.
Elaine Lane October 29, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Karen, it's too late for that. The teachers have already made it VERY clear what this is about................and it ain't the kids.
Rick Anderson October 29, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Very good teachers are always looking to be creative and looking for innovative means to reach students in visual, auditory, and kinesitics ways. The very good teachers are always thinking and planning and experimenting. It isn't a 9 month job for them. Given that, it is still a severe economic matter in our community that does not give the GEA carte blanc to the taxpayers checkbook and they are not immune as they say to what we must endure. As President Obama says, "we've got to level the playing field and play by the same rules." The GEA can't have it their own way.
Karen October 29, 2012 at 10:52 PM
(a) teachers are busy teaching the kids when there is a PTO meeting. (b) I only speak from my experience with my kids and their teachers and yes they do care about my kids. Don't let the actions of a few give the many a bad name. (c) if the teachers did not care about the kids, why would they work without a contract for 2 months?
Elaine Lane October 29, 2012 at 11:11 PM
Oh my gosh, Karen, are you under the false impression that without a current contract, the teachers are working for free because they care so much about the kids???? Please tell me you know better than that.
Jen Marsh October 30, 2012 at 12:16 AM
the teachers are working under the same contract, as they have these past three years. Good grief...hard to take your comments seriously, Karen, when you appear to not understand the contract issue.
Terry October 30, 2012 at 01:06 AM
Why can't the tax payers provide one fixed education budget that is set and accounts for all expenses, including pension obligations (amortized equally), and allow the teachers and administrators to work it out? As long as the pension contributions are covered equally in each year's budget, this would allow teachers and administrators to choose their priorities under a budget mechanism that the tax payers approve. As long as the budget is provided to the educators, they are smart enough to divide it up, and they can take ownership of managing the costs to meet budget. The budget should be determined by tax payers to fit the economic times we are in and should be passed through referendum to cover 3-5 year periods. Once passed, provide the budget to the Board and Educators and committee of teachers, and allow them to determine who makes what... once they have that empowerment, they may come up with some great ideas. And they can own the results. They may even laugh at the union demands if the union demands are unaffordable to the budget constraints. I do not care how they divide the pie. If they can afford to give increases with a fixed budget, then let them- perhaps if they had ownership of operating on a fixed budget, then they would reassess who is really worth paying $45,000 and who is really worth paying $110,000 per year. Especially if they are teaching the same level and paying one $110,000 prevents one of the committee members from making $60,000.
Bob McQuillan October 30, 2012 at 01:40 AM
Terry Your plan makes a lot of sense. I sent a similar idea to the board several weeks ago. The union should be given a set amount of money for salaries and a set amount for benefits. The BOE determines what is affordable and how many teachers are needed. Total can't increase or decrease by a certain percentage. The union can set up a "Compensation Committee" headed by the asst. Superintendent of Human Resources. They can divide the salary money up any way they want but there is no more money. The same could be done for benefits, each teacher gets a set amount to spend on benefits. They are given a menu of benefits to choose from with costs assigned to each benefit. The teacher has x number of dollars to spend on benefits. If they spend less they get the difference in cash. if they spend more then x dollars, they pay the extra. Simple solution and the BOE is out of the day-to-day hassle of deciding salaries & benefits. The only issue I see is the referendum idea. The way the tax levy is set up, it is difficult to figure out how much you will have to spend three years in advance. Something has to be done and your idea is as good as any I have heard.
Bailey October 30, 2012 at 03:01 AM
The term "seasonal" comes up because when the job provides for summers off, spring break and holiday break and many holidays and sick and personal days in between, falls into that category. That is common sense. To compare their annual salaries with those who work a full 12 months is senseless. Many teachers take classes for the sole purpose of moving over a lane to earn a higher salary. I personally know a teacher who got a Master's degree, worked less than one more year and that degree bumped up her pension for the rest of her life. Guess who is paying for that? What student benefitted from that? That's is abusive at best. My employees get raises when they excel at their job-just showing up doesn't make it. They take classes to keep their jobs and skills up. This is the norm. Teachers should get a clue, and just slither back into the classroom. The more strikes- the more the public is becoming aware of the facts and figures.Listen closely- the phrase "Reaganize them" is ringing out.
Max October 30, 2012 at 03:28 AM
Terry & Bob, This idea is so rational and simple that one would expect to see an overwhelming surge of support from those who seriously consider it. And so rational, simple and manageable that as long as there is a union involved in the process, it has no hope whatever of being established.
Karen October 30, 2012 at 03:58 AM
If only you would read my comments and not insult me personally. My point is the teachers could have gone on strike before the school year started. I appreciate the fact that decided to continue to work under the old contract and continue to negotiate it. I do understand the contract issues completely. Its not the first contract I have read in my lifetime. Like I said in my first comment, I believe the teachers are asking too much, however the district offer is low. All I want is my kids education to continue in the positive direction. I have had such a positive experience with the teachers at my kids school, that I hope that both sides can reach an agreement that does not tear this community to shreds.
Elaine Lane October 30, 2012 at 11:42 AM
Bailey, EVERYBODY should be paid fairly for what they do, but it's not happening in this economy. It's a scary work world out there with job cuts, pay freezes, downsizing, layoffs, etc. Teachers need to look around, get real, and stop being so greedy.
John S October 31, 2012 at 06:42 AM
The problem now is the school board has opted to go public with everything instead of sit at the table and negotiate nonstop. If the school board wanted to get a deal done, they would sit at the table. I suggest both parties get it done before it is too personal and you ruin the city of Geneva. NO ONE WINS DURING A STRIKE except the loud mouths that don't have any real stake (kids) in the system. As a member of an airline union, things get settled at the table in multiple day long hour sessions. One twelve hour session does not scratch the service of getting the job done. If our community thinks that having 1-3 year teachers replace, the best teachers for the money in all of Illinois. They are poorly mistaken. Looking at the entire state of Illinois, the Geneva teachers our in the lower middle when it comes to salary. There are many reasons we leave in Geneva versus St. Charles or Batavia or Elburn one is certainly the schools are better. We are still getting the best education our Tax money can buy today and still will be if a deal is reached. Bob BEO members do attend PTO meetings regularly. Why? Because that's what comes with the job. As for teachers, they don't attend because the PTO is brought to classroom by parent support created by the PTO. Please don't create more spin there is already enough out there. Fyi, there two teachers, an administrator and BEO member that also attend GAF regularly.
John S October 31, 2012 at 07:01 AM
It sounds good on paper. But how does one determine a fair number? But then throw a referendum from three years ago and the failed planned growth needed to cover the upcoming shortage who's fault is that? Lets just blame it on the teachers and lower budget for the teachers. Is that really fair? We the tax payers voted for the referendum based on the booming growth. Unfortunately, lets make the teachers absorb some of the cost. Is that really fair? I would say not
Michail Gomberg October 31, 2012 at 12:29 PM
John S There are a lot of things that are unfair, that alone can not be the basis for sound budgeting. The reality is that teachers are a very large part of the public sector (70% of the tax bill I believe) and the public sector can not be completely divorced from what's going on in the private sector. If you don't believe me look across the pond to Greece for an extreme example. If you think that's a stretch look at US municipalities that have literally run out of money and had to consolidate, outsource or get rid of vital public services like their Police. You may be right that the budget number is hard to come up with but that doesn't mean the board shouldn't try. Also, even if you believe in step and lane for teachers that doesn't mean that the contract shouldn't be periodically adjusted to match the current economic conditions. In our case all the BOE is doing is acknowledging these facts and is trying to put a cap on tax bills that have risen 40% in the last 8 years despite the shrinking local economy. By the way, it's very easy for the GEA to blame the BOE and the tax payers for voting for the referendums. Please keep in mind that the GEA was very active in supporting the very same referendum. I was living in Geneva at the time and I vividly remember the flyers, mailings and the yard signs purchased by the GEA.

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