Comparing proposed salary increases released Tuesday by Geneva's school board and teachers union can be tricky since the two groups don't seem to speak the same language.
Unlike a formal contract, neither news release contained a salary schedule grid with exact dollar figures.
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Case in point is how board President Mark Grosso Tuesday described the union's latest offer compared to what union President Carol Young's prepared statement said.
Grosso's description: The union's proposal is "(1) a salary freeze for all teachers in year one, except for those who qualify for lane movement due to additional education; (2) a 2.65 percent step increase over the amount paid in year one for all teachers for the first half of year two and a 3.975 percent step increase for the remainder of year two; and (3) a 2.65 percent step increase over the amount paid in year two for all teachers for the first half of year three and a 3.975 percent step increase for the remainder of year three.
The union also demanded that $198 be added to the base salary in year two and another $199 in year three, that would benefit all teachers. The union also demanded that teachers who qualify for lane movement due to additional education be allowed to do so."
Young's statement: "Our Oct. 23 offer to the board included a freeze for teachers in year 1, only grandfathering those who had signed approval forms for lane advancement which we believe to be a contractual obligation. This group includes 36 individuals out of 422 teachers. Step and lane movement was offered for year 2 (2.65 percent) and a partial year half-step movement for the second half of that year (one-quarter step or 0.66 percent). Year 2 also included a 0.5 percent increase to the base salary. Year 3 was exactly the same as Year 2."
Both sides seem to agree to freeze salaries and grant lane increases the first year. Young has not responded to a request seeking clarification about whether the second- and third-year midyear step increases are half steps or quarter steps.
One way to compare proposals is to look at the salary of a teacher with neither experience nor graduate work.
Under the union's proposal, that teacher would make $39,651 the first year, $39,849 the second year and $40,049 in year three, Young wrote in an email. The board's proposal: That teacher would make $39,651, $40,305 and $41,413.
It's not that simple when factoring step increases, which are based on years of service, and lane increases, which are based on completed graduate work. The board's proposal doesn't include step increases and limits the speed of lane movements.
Using the union's figures, Teacher A (in step 1, lane 1) would make $39,651 the first year of employment. If the teacher returns the next year, and has completed 8 credit hours of agreed-upon graduate education, the teacher moves into step 2, lane 2, and with that a .5 percent bump in the base pay, would make at least $41,960. That's without adding a midyear step increase.
That same teacher, under the board's scenario, would make at least $41,355, based on a base pay increase of 1.65 percent and a lane increase of 2.65 percent.
Meanwhile, parents are working on another problem: What happens to their children if teachers strike Nov. 9?
"I do not know what I will do (if there is a strike)," Yvonne Jones said Wednesday outside of Harrison Street Elementary School. Five of her six children attend public schools. She said she moved here 11 years ago because of the quality of schools.
District 304 officials announced Wednesday evening that they would keep elementary school buildings, the high school and one middle school open with supervised activities and a limited lunch menu, but would cancel classes.
"I think people are underestimating what the teachers do in this district. It's sad. They are not greedy," Jones said.