Geneva teacher contract talks back on today

 
 
Updated 12/9/2018 4:45 PM
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  • Jessie Egan and her fellow Geneva teachers picket Wednesday outside Geneva High School.

      Jessie Egan and her fellow Geneva teachers picket Wednesday outside Geneva High School. Rick West | Staff Photographer

As Geneva teachers and the school board prepare to resume negotiations Sunday, a text a guidance counselor sent to students Saturday afternoon outraged some parents.

The counselor used an app called Remind to send a link to an online petition the Geneva Education Association is circulating. The petition, called "Take the Deal," urges the school board to accept the union's latest proposal.

The district uses Remind to advise students to charge their electronic devices to be used in a particular study session, that course-request forms are available, that a test is coming up, and the like.

"Earlier today a GHS counselor sent a Remind message to GHS students asking students and parents to sign a petition. The message was inappropriate and a misuse of the communication app," Principal Tom Rogers wrote in an email to parents.

A spokeswoman for the teachers union apologized.

"This was done in error by one of our members, who promptly apologized and asked those students that received it to disregard the message," said spokeswoman Bridget Shanahan. "This was a mistake, for which the Geneva Education Association deeply apologizes."

Guidance counselors are included in the teacher contract.

As of 4:45 p.m. Saturday, 1,406 people had signed the petition, but some commented they want the union to accept the school board's offer. The petition does not show the signers' full names.

Negotiations will resume at 3 p.m. Sunday at the district's headquarters, 227 N. Fourth St. The union will have a march at 2 p.m. from Geneva High School to the headquarters.

Latest union offer

The union's latest offer calls for accepting part of the board's Dec. 4 proposal for salaries for the first two years of a four-year contract. That proposal increased the base starting salary by $1,900, and almost all the other teachers on the salary schedule would get the $1,900 plus a 1.6 percent increase, according to Shanahan. In the second year the starting salary would increase by $1,800; almost all the others would go up by 1.6 percent plus the $1,800.

In the third year of the contract, the union proposes increasing the pay for a starting teacher (with just a bachelor's degree) by 2.5 percent. That base pay would increase 1 percent in year four.

Base pay for teachers with 22 years of experience and a doctorate or double master's degrees would receive a 1.35 percent raise in year 3 and a 1 percent raise in year 4.

The union also wants the district to increase the percentage of the health-insurance premium it pays for dependent coverage, from the current 60 percent to 62 percent in the second year, 65 percent in the third year and 68 percent in the fourth year. It wants pay for summer school teaching increased to $45 per hour.

The board has not publicized its Friday night offers but released this statement Saturday morning: "The Board and the GEA each presented a new salary model they believed represented a compromise in that it was a combination of the models each side promoted. The Board's proposal blends the models of both sides and provides higher salaries for more experienced teachers in response to the interests of the union, while maintaining higher starting salaries for beginning teachers."

The teachers went on strike Tuesday.

Negotiations on a new contract began in February. The previous contract expired in August, before school started.

Due to the strike, first-semester final examinations at Geneva High School now will be administered in January, after the Christmas break.

Boys bowling, boys basketball, boys wrestling, girls gymnastics, cheerleading and dance team matches were canceled Saturday. And the dance teams' contests for Sunday are also canceled.

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