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Article posted: 10/2/2012 6:16 PM

D304 superintendent cites confidentiality of contract negotiations

By Susan Sarkauskas

A meeting between Heartland Elementary School parents and the Geneva Education Association president, to answer parents' questions about the effect of teacher contract negotiations on their children, was canceled Tuesday by Geneva schools Superintendent Kent Mutchler.

Mutchler did so "citing concerns over the confidential nature of the contract negotiation talks," according to a notice posted on the school PTO's website and sent by email to subscribers to the district's notification service. The district and the union agreed to keep the negotiation practices and proposals confidential when they began negotiations.

The after-school meeting was to feature union president Carol Young, and two Heartland teachers who are the union's representatives at Heartland.

According to a Web posting about the meeting, it was supposed to be for "parents with concerns over activities related to the contract negotiations." It did not specify what those concerns or activities are, and PTO Co-President Gerri Corbett declined to elaborate. Corbett said the PTO did not call the meeting, but was only facilitating it.

Principal Adam Law said parents have asked him if their children's education is being affected by the negotiations. "I have assured them that teachers continue to work hard for their students," he said.

Teachers have been working without a contract since Aug. 15. The teachers, however, are being paid in accordance with the previous contract. A federal mediator has been meeting with both sides. At issue are compensation, benefits and support services for special education teachers. Teachers have attended the last several school board meetings en masse, wearing green union T-shirts, and have spoken to the board about their desires.

The cancellation notice directed parents to contact Young, Law or Mutchler.

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