Geneva teachers to strike Tuesday if a deal isn't made Sunday or Monday
Geneva schoolteachers will go on strike Tuesday, unless a tentative agreement for a new contract is reached Sunday or Monday.
The Geneva Education Association announced the plan Saturday afternoon.
It did so after discussing the school board's latest offer with members Thursday and Friday.
"A strike is GEA's absolute last resort," said union President Kevin Gannon, in a news release. "We are still hopeful we can reach a fair agreement. We would much rather be in our classrooms with our students, but the bottom line is, if we have to go out on strike we will. Our students, schools and community are worth fighting for."
"The board is very disappointed in that decision," board President Mark Grosso said.
The two sides are due to meet again at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Coultrap Educational Services Center, 227 N. 4th St., Geneva. If progress is made, both are willing to meet again on Monday, they say.
"The board will sit at the table for as long as it takes," Grosso said.
While the school board's latest offer contains a "step and lane" salary schedule format -- something the union had asked for -- the board's version of it doesn't please them.
Gannon said it departs from the "traditional model."
"The charts look the same, but the way they are calculated are significantly different," Gannon said in an interview.
"Step" refers to the years of experience the teacher has; "lane" refers to the amount of graduate-school education the teacher has attained. The board proposes a 22-step, nine-lane schedule.
In the past, the salaries in all cells have increased by the same percentage, according to Gannon. According to Grosso, that meant higher-paid teachers received more dollars than less experienced teachers. The district, he said, is trying to improve the starting pay of its teachers. He said all would receive the same percentage increase plus an equal flat-dollar increase.
The union contends that Geneva's starting pay is too low to be competitive with other school districts in the area.
Gannon said that in the first year of the proposed four-year contract, the pay for starting and second-year teachers who don't move over a lane, including the percentage increase and the flat amount, would increase 6 percent. But a person near the top of the pay scale -- a 21-year veteran with a doctorate -- would see a 3 percent increase, according to Gannon.
"That (spread) is a very difficult part of the board's proposal to ratify," Gannon said.
"We thought it was a very fair offer," Grosso said.
If teachers strike, school would be canceled Tuesday, Grosso said. The district will apprise parents of the status via the 304Connects electronic messaging system, he said.