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posted: 10/24/2012 12:01 AM

Board president points out step, lane increase percentages

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The Geneva school board will not make public its official "final offer" for a teachers contract, at least not until after Tuesday's negotiation session with a federal mediator, school board President Mark Grosso said earlier in the day.

The two sides met beginning at 4 p.m., and were still in session as of about 9:15 p.m.

The Geneva Education Association declared the negotiations at an impasse Oct. 12; on Oct. 17 it authorized leaders to call a strike; and Friday it submitted its final offer to the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board, then posted the offer on the union's website. "Final offer" and "impasse" are official terms used by the IELRB.

The school district doesn't have to post its final offer until Friday, the same day the state board would post both offers.

The union's offer calls for 1 percent overall increases in the salary schedule, plus continuation of the practice of giving teachers automatic raises as they accumulate seniority and postgraduate education.

Grosso said before Tuesday's meeting that step increases being requested are 2.65 percent, and lane increases 2.65 percent for work up to a master's degree and 5.37 percent for work beyond that toward a doctoral degree, about the same as in the expired contract the teachers are working under. The teachers' offer did not specify percentages for the step and lane increases. The 2011-12 salary schedule matrix in the expired contract contains nine lanes and 22 steps.

Using a 1 percent overall salary schedule increase, then adding in a 2.65 percent step increase for one year of experience, takes the salary of a beginning teacher with a bachelor's degree from the current pay of $39,651 to approximately $41,100.

As for adding two years to the non early retirement offer plan, which the union has requested: "The board is reluctant to do anything -- and I've said this in (board) meetings -- because of what is going on in the state legislature," Grosso said.

He was referring to proposals to shift some of the state's responsibility for pension fund contributions to school districts. If teachers announce their retirement four years in advance, under the contract, they receive a 6 percent increase in pay during their final year. Pension payments are based upon ending salary.

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