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Negotiation Update: An Important Message from the Board of Education

Dec. 6, 2018

Tonight, the Geneva School District 304 Board of Education and the Geneva Education Association (GEA), the union that represents our more than 450 teachers, will resume negotiations.

ABOUT THE BOARD’S MOST RECENT OFFER - IMPACT ON INDIVIDUAL TEACHER COMPENSATION 

Teacher compensation, particularly salaries, continue to be the focus of negotiations. By law, salaries for public employees, including public school teachers, administrators and staff, is considered public information. By law, salaries for Geneva 304 teachers and administrators are posted to the District's website annually.

The Board’s most recent proposal, which was delivered to the GEA at our last negotiating session prior to the strike on Dec. 4, provides more than $5.5 million or a 17.69% increase in new money for teacher compensation as calculated across all staff member increases, representing not less than an increase of between $9,567 and $12,949 for an individual full-time teacher who is on the salary schedule over the life of the proposed four-year contract. 

In response to community and staff interest in learning more about the impact of the Board’s most recent offer on each teacher, the Board also is posting the projected salary increases each full-time teacher would experience under the Board’s proposal. This posting shows the salary increase under the Board’s proposal for each teacher, for each year of the four-year contract offer. Staff members would be eligible to receive compensation in addition to these projections for educational advancement. 

We expect that the GEA will provide a response and/or a counter-proposal at tonight’s negotiating session. To date, the GEA’s proposals have not detailed the potential financial impact that they would have on the District’s budgets, projections or on the taxpayers.

CLARIFICATIONS ON CLAIMS BY THE GEA AND ITS NEED FOR A TRADITIONAL SALARY MODEL

We also feel it is important to address some of the inaccurate and misleading claims made by GEA in its publications, including its demand for a traditional step-and-lane salary model.

It is important to emphasize that current poposals from both the Board and the GEA feature a non-traditional step and lane schedule. The Board’s model provides all teachers both a percentage salary increase and an additional dollar increase, while the GEA’s reverts back to the historical percentage-based increase. The Board’s model was developed collaboratively with the GEA in a small group that included both the Board president and the GEA president. It provides certainty around teacher compensation, ensuring that the District, its teachers and the taxpayers that fund our schools can anticipate and plan in a realistic and sustainable manner based on clearly outlined salary increases for the duration of the contract. To the Board, this is more fiscally responsible than a 50-year-old model.

We strongly disagree that only a traditional salary model will encourage educators to stay in Geneva 304. The Board’s proposed model addresses both its interest in increasing starting salaries that have lagged due to the former model (bringing it from $40,589 to $47,589 over four years of the contract), while also keeping salaries competitive for experienced teachers (in the fourth year of the contract, some teachers will earn a top salary of $122,703). The Board’s proposal also lifted any restrictions in educational lane advancements so that full financial credit is awarded. This is shown by the noticeably higher percentage increases of some employees during the first year of the proposed agreement.

The GEA also underestimates our teachers’ commitment to their colleagues and their profession by suggesting that only a traditional salary model will encourage collaboration. The argument that teachers will only feel motivated to mentor and collaborate with each other if they are receiving equitable pay is saddening to the Board and should not be a reason our students are not in school.  

It is inaccurate to suggest that a traditional salary model does not create winners and losers with compensation. In fact, in Geneva 304, previous salary schedules repressed salaries for beginning teachers. This is something that the board has tried to change in recent past negotiations. In order to both recruit AND retain high quality teachers, we believe ALL our teachers to be compensated fairly and competitively. 

WORKING FOR RESOLUTION

We are hopeful that tonight’s session will either achieve or move us closer toward a fair and fiscally responsible contract agreement that is in the best interest of all District 304 stakeholders — students, parents and families, teachers, staff and the taxpayers who fund our public schools. 

As always, we thank you for your support of District 304 schools and students. We will continue to provide daily email updates on the status of our negotiations. For up-to-date information, please visit the District website at www.geneva304.org.

 

Sincerely,

Geneva CUSD 304 Board of Education


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