Geneva teachers union: Progress in talks as both sides make concessions

  • Geneva teachers continue picketing outside Geneva Community High School on the second day of their strike.

      Geneva teachers continue picketing outside Geneva Community High School on the second day of their strike. Rick West | Staff Photographer

 

Geneva teachers and the District 304 school board made progress on contract negotiations, making concessions during talks going until nearly midnight Friday, according to the teachers union.

Bridget Shanahan, spokeswoman for the Geneva Education Association parent organization Illinois Education Association, said the union had offered a major compromise Friday, with teachers agreeing to accept the board's flat-raise salary schedule for the first two years of the contract.

For the remaining two years of the contract, the salary schedule would revert to the traditional step-and-lane salary format that compensates teachers based on education and experience.

"The GEA said it believes this is best for the students and the district in the long run," she said.

Shanahan later said in a statement that no tentative agreement was reached.

"Both teams concluded that they would benefit from the assistance from a federal mediator to attend the scheduled negotiation session on Sunday at 3 p.m.," her statement said.

A representative for the school district was not yet available for comment.

The sides were working to end a teachers strike that halted classes for the nearly 6,000-student district on Tuesday morning.

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In the union's latest proposal, teachers would get a 1.6 percent raise and an additional flat dollar raise of $1,900 in this school year, and the same percentage raise and $1,800 in the 2019-2020 school year.

In 2020-21, the raises would range between 1.35 percent and 2.5 percent, with the bigger raises going to the newer teachers, while in 2021-22, the raises would be 1 percent for both the newer and most senior teachers.

The two sides began bargaining at 6:30 p.m. at the district's headquarters in Geneva.

Progress in the negotiations already had been made Thursday night, according to the union, but teachers continued their strike for a fourth day Friday. The teams for the school board and the union, plus a federal mediator, met for more than three hours.

Earlier that day, Geneva District 304 officials had released a chart of what each teacher would be paid under the terms the school board proposed early Tuesday morning. Besides that report, the district's release included comments disagreeing with several union statements.

The news release from the district said starting salaries "lagged" in recent years due to the "step and lane" salary schedule method the district has used for at least 50 years and that the teachers union preferred.

But Geneva Education Association President Kevin Gannon said Thursday afternoon disagreed with the district's posting. He said the teachers' salaries are behind due to agreements the union made in the 2012 and 2015 contracts to either delay pay increases or limit them.

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