Geneva teachers get raises in new contract

 
 
Updated 8/25/2015 5:08 AM

The base pay for Geneva school district teachers will be increased 1 percent this year and 1 percent next year, under a new contract the school board approved Monday.

But in the last year of the three-year contract, any increase will be tied to the rate of inflation, determined by the 10-year rolling average of the change of the Consumer Price Index.

 

And this will probably be the last time the contract calculates salaries using a "step and lane" approach, where teachers' salaries are adjusted both by their years of experience and the amount of postgraduate education they obtain.

"They (salary structure) have to be brought in to line with economic reality," board President Mark Grosso said after the meeting, calling the current structure "antiquated."

The step-and-lane approach locks in salary increases that have to be given even if the rates are higher than inflation. Most school districts in Illinois operate under a property tax cap that restricts districts to raising taxes for operations by 5 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less, without conducting a referendum. Property taxes account for about 80 percent of the money in the education fund, from which teachers are paid. Salaries account for about 71 percent of education fund spending.

Under the new contract, a teacher with just a bachelor's degree and no experience will be paid a base of $40,127 this year. The base bay will be $40,529 in 2016-17.

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Teachers with more experience and more education will also receive raises, but those amounts were not available Monday night.

"I think this is a good contract. It is fair to the community, it is fair to the district, it is fair to our teachers and it is sustainable," Grosso said.

A committee of teachers, administrators and board members will begin work on a new salary structure in the summer of 2016.

The Geneva Education Association ratified the contract Aug. 20. The contract is retroactive to Aug. 15.

According to a news release from the district and the union, there were changes in the district's health insurance coverage, the structure of the retirement plan, sick leave allocation and extracurricular payments. Those changes were not detailed in the release. The contract will be posted on the district's website by the end of August.

In 2012, negotiations grew testy, with teachers authorizing a strike, and the contract wasn't settled until November.

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