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Article updated: 11/12/2012 12:56 AM

Dist. 304 board, teachers still negotiating

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By Daily Herald report

Members of the Geneva Community Unit District 304 school board and teachers union worked late into the night Sunday trying to avert an impending strike.

The school district on Saturday sent a letter to parents that school is still scheduled to take place Monday and said the board remained "committed to negotiating an agreement that is good for students, fair to teachers and fiscally responsible."

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In the event of a strike, officials will attempt to notify families by 5:30 a.m. using the district's emergency notification system.

Negotiations took a divisive turn on Saturday when the Geneva teachers union filed an unfair labor practice charge against District 304, alleging that the school board "sent a threat directly to teachers in an illegal attempt to coerce/intimidate them from their plans to engage in a lawful strike."

Union President Carol Young said the dispute arose Wednesday when teachers received letters from the school board saying staff members would be responsible for their full health and dental insurance premiums each day of their impending work stoppage.

Young said the letter also addressed negotiation items that remain undecided.

"We remain committed to getting this dispute settled fairly," Geneva Education Association President Carol Young said in a statement. "But we won't stand idly by as the school board behaves in an intimidating manner toward our members."

Young said the union also is investigating the potential of filing additional charges against the school board of bargaining in bad faith.

In a statement to the Daily Herald on Sunday, school board attorney Sarah Miller rejected the union's claims.

"The letter that the GEA refers to in their press release was sent by the board to certified staff on Wednesday, Nov. 7, in an effort to be as forthcoming as possible as to what will occur in the event of a strike," Miller writes. "By no means did the board intend to intimidate union members into not taking part in their legal right to strike. Rather the board is attempting to communicate as thoroughly and honestly as possible. In fact, this letter was written in response to numerous questions that the administration had received from teachers."

If a strike happens, regular classes and most extracurricular activities would be canceled, but school buildings will be kept open and school personnel will supervise age-appropriate activities. Buses will follow a regular schedule and a limited lunch menu will be offered for purchase.

Mid-Valley Special Education classes, the Friendship Station program and Fox Valley Career Center all will continue.

School specific strike plans and negotiation details can be found at https://www.geneva304.org/negotiations.asp

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