Geneva teachers, school board reach deal to end strike

A tentative deal has been agreed to between the Geneva School District 304 Board of Education and the Geneva Education Association, officials announced.

The announcement on the Geneva Community District 304 website reads, "We are happy to announce that at 3:22 a.m., the Board and the GEA have reached a tentative agreement on a new five-year collective bargaining agreement."

The teachers are now expected to vote to ratify the contract during a vote at 3 p.m. Monday.

Classes remain canceled today, officials said.

Geneva Education Association President Kevin Gannon said in a statement early Monday the agreement came after the two sides met in a marathon bargaining session that lasted more than 12 hours Sunday.

"Progress was made because we remained committed to collaboration, compromise and doing what's best for our students," he said in the statement. "We'd like to thank the community for their continued support. We believe it was that push from the community that brought us across the finish line."

Teachers have been on strike since Tuesday, canceling classes and extracurricular activities for the district's nearly 6,000 students.

Negotiations progressed Friday, with the union making some concessions, union officials said, but no tentative agreement was reached.

The union's latest offer calls for accepting parts 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.

An online petition being circulated by the Geneva Education Association, which urges the school board to accept the union's proposal, received more than 2,200 signatures as of Sunday night.

The school board did not publicize its offers from Friday night, but released a statement Saturday morning saying both parties "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."

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