The Geneva school district and its teachers union have reached an impasse in contract talks.
The Geneva Education Association declared the impasse Friday.
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According to a statement from the union, the school district is "unwilling" to move further in its offers if the union did not accept a "hard freeze" on salaries for the first year.
According to GEA president Carol Young, hard freeze means pay would be frozen at the same levels as the last year of the expired contract, and that teachers would not receive bumps for graduate coursework they have completed, even that which the district approved earlier in the year.
Although there are some unresolved working conditions issues, "certainly that (compensation) is an important issue," Young said. She declined to specify the teachers' offer until it has finished preparing the paperwork to file with the state.
The union will submit its final offer to the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board by Oct. 19, and will also publish it on its website, gea4students.org.
In a prepared statement, Superintendent Kent Mutchler said the school board "was surprised" to learn through the Illinois Education Association Friday morning that the GEA declared an impasse.
"The fact that the teachers union has declared an impasse suggests that they have concluded that nothing can be gained by future negotiations. It is disheartening to the members of the board of education that the GEA has chosen this route, as the board of education has remained steadfast in its commitment to negotiating in good faith and coming to a fair and reasonable agreement," Mutchler said.
"The GEA is more than willing to sit down at the negotiating table with the district when and if they are willing to negotiate in good faith and come to a fair and reasonable agreement," according to the statement from the GEA.
The declaration of an impasse triggers a requirement, under Illinois law, for both parties to post publicly their "final offers" on the website of the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board. The GEA and the district will submit their final offers to the state by Oct. 19. The district will post its offer at www.geneva304.org, by Oct. 26.
The current contract expired Aug. 15. The two sides began meeting with a federal mediator in September. The last mediation session was Oct. 5, and the next is scheduled Oct. 23.
Declaring an impasse does not mean teachers will strike. If teachers were to strike, they would have to give the district at least 10 days notice of that intent, and they can't go on strike until at least 14 days after the final offers from both sides are posted.
Teachers picketed a school board meeting Tuesday night, and have been attending school board meetings wearing bright green "United We Teach" T-shirts. Thursday, teachers wore their T-shirts and entered their schools en masse.
"We are trying to make a statement," Young said, and put pressure on the board, "by doing things that don't affect the kids."