'This is a good deal': Geneva teachers ratify contract; school will resume Tuesday

 
 
Updated 12/11/2018 4:48 PM
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  • Kevin Gannon, president of the Geneva Education Association, answers questions at Geneva High School on Monday after members ratified a new contract.

      Kevin Gannon, president of the Geneva Education Association, answers questions at Geneva High School on Monday after members ratified a new contract. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • First-grade teacher Megan Wassell, left, and parent Alicia Saxton with her kids Elena, 5 and Lila, 7, right, listen to the Geneva Education Association president at Geneva High School on Monday after members voted to ratify a new contract.

      First-grade teacher Megan Wassell, left, and parent Alicia Saxton with her kids Elena, 5 and Lila, 7, right, listen to the Geneva Education Association president at Geneva High School on Monday after members voted to ratify a new contract. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Members of the Geneva Education Association leave Geneva High School on Monday after ratifying a new contract.

      Members of the Geneva Education Association leave Geneva High School on Monday after ratifying a new contract. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

Editor's note: This story was changed to correct a detail about the tentative five-year contract. It reads: He said the contract “was truly a compromise.” The five-year contract will use the GEA’s preferred salary-schedule model the first two years, and the school board’s for the next three years.

Geneva teachers will be back in the classrooms Tuesday, after they ratified a new contract Monday afternoon.

"This is a good deal," Geneva Education Association President Kevin Gannon said at a news conference.

"What we did hear was, find a model that would allow for compensation to be good for every part of a teacher's career, so that way we can attract and retain that highest-quality teacher, and get to that Holy Grail in education with (keeping) career educators."

He said the contract "was truly a compromise." The five-year contract will use the GEA's preferred salary-schedule model the first two years, and the school board's for the next three years.

The school board proposed a five-year term Sunday, he said. Doing so provides stability for teachers and planning ability to the school board, Gannon said.

Gannon declined to detail how many union members voted in favor or how many members attended the meeting. Ratification required a "yes" vote from a minimum of 66 percent attending the meeting, he said.

School board President Mark Grosso said he was pleased the union ratified the contract but did not want to discuss the contract or the negotiations until after the school board ratifies it.

Grosso said he is trying to schedule a meeting, with all board members present, to vote on the contract this week. The board has to give the public at least 48 hours' notice of a meeting, so the earliest it could be done is Thursday. The board was supposed to meet Monday night but canceled it several days in advance because of the uncertainty about the success of the Sunday-night negotiations.

Both sides agreed not to discuss specifics, or release the tentative agreement, until after both sides have ratified it.

Gannon said there are various percentage increases throughout the schedules for salaries "and that is a place where we are very comfortable with."

Alicia Saxton, a former teacher, spoke at the teachers union news conference. She said she organized a Facebook page supporting the teachers and has decided to run for school board. She said she and her husband moved to Geneva, where he had grown up, especially to raise a family because of the quality of the schools.

"Our schools here in Geneva are some of the best in the state," she said.

She also noted her daughters, who attend Heartland Elementary, are eager to get back to their normal routine. "My little one (kindergartner Elena) keeps asking if she can pull her (loose) tooth out at school tomorrow," Saxton said.

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