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Article updated: 11/9/2012 10:03 AM

Geneva board, teachers break late; no word on strike Friday

Students head out of Geneva High School Thursday afternoon. Teachers could strike as early as Friday but have not announced if they will do so. The teachers union and the school board met with a federal mediator Thursday afternoon and late into the night.

Students head out of Geneva High School Thursday afternoon. Teachers could strike as early as Friday but have not announced if they will do so. The teachers union and the school board met with a federal mediator Thursday afternoon and late into the night.

 

Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

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Negotiators for the Geneva Education Association and the Geneva school board met until nearly 11 p.m. Thursday in an effort to avert a teachers strike that could start as early as Friday.

But neither side said whether a tentative accord was reached, whether more negotiation is planned or whether a strike would happen today.

Sarah Miller, the school board's lawyer, said in an email statement only that a news release would be issued Friday.

Earlier in the evening, a union representative replied to a query, via email, that teachers had not set a strike date. If a strike does happen, parents would be notified by the emergency-system phone and by email.

The union has given notice that it could strike as soon as Friday, but it has not said if it will. Pay has been the sticking issue.

No matter what the teachers decide, the show will go on Friday at Geneva High School.

The fall play, "Laughing Stock," will be performed as scheduled, Principal Tom Rogers said Thursday.

Other extracurricular activities, including sports practices and games, will be considered canceled until further notice if there is a strike, he said.

The Illinois High School Association, which regulates competitions, does not allow regular-season games to be played if a school is not in session due to a strike.

If teachers do go on strike Friday, Geneva Middle Schools North and South's popular Veterans Day assembly will be canceled. The event usually features a band, a choir and speeches by students, and many of the veterans then visit classes after to answer questions about their experiences in the military.

Both the teachers union and the school board have proposed the salary schedule be frozen in the first year of a new contract, but the union wants teachers to still get step and lane increases, for experience and attained graduate education. The board was not willing -- in a proposal it made last week -- to give step increases during the first year.

The two sides also disagree about increasing the pay of teachers approaching retirement. Currently, if a teacher announces their retirement four years in advance, during the fourth year their pay is increased another 6 percent, for the purposes of retirement fund contributions. The union would like to see that 6 percent bump applied for three years; the school board wants to phase it out.

There are 422 teachers, librarians, social workers and psychologists in the bargaining unit; 388 of them belong to the GEA.

The district plans to keep school buildings open if there is a strike. There will be supervised activities at the elementary and middle schools. The Fitness Center, gymnasiums, computer laboratory and library will be open at the high school. Administrators, support workers such as aides, and substitute teachers will oversee the activities.

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