Geneva District 304, teachers union OK new 3-year contract

Shaw Local News Network

The Geneva Unit District 304 school board Monday unanimously approved a new three-year contract with the teachers union at an additional cost of $5 million, according to a news release.

An estimated $3.9 million reflects the increase in compensation over the three years, with an additional $970,000 in the cost of benefits.

The Geneva Education Association membership ratified the 53-page contract last week, officials said. The district has 396 full-time teachers, according to its 2021-22 School Report Card.

Teachers' pay will increase by 3.5% for the 2023-24 school year, 3% in the 2024-25 school year and 2.5% in the 2025-26 school year, according to the contract.

If the district experiences financial changes due to pension shifts, a property tax freeze, revenue reduction due to new legislation, or a 10% or more decrease in state aid, both sides agree to negotiate how to deal with the impact, according to the contract.

The starting salary for a teacher with a bachelor's degree will be $48,711 for next year, up from the current contract's starting salary of $47,756, a difference of $955, according to the release.

Starting salary for the second year of the contract will be $49,783, increasing to $50,480 in the third and last year of the new contract.

The salary schedules for each year of the contract detail compensation for years of experience - called lanes - and levels of education - called steps.

For example, a teacher with a maximum of 23 years of experience, a master's degree, plus 45 hours of graduate work, would be paid $105,938 in the first year of the new contract.

The top teacher salaries in the new contract in lane 23 with two master's degrees are $111,103, $114,148 and $116,518, respectively.

In addition, the district will pay 95% of the health insurance and 100% of dental insurance for teachers, and 75% of health - up from 60% in the current contract - and 50% of dental insurance for dependents.

In a news release, school and union officials praised the contract and the process used to achieve it.

"I am excited both about the resulting contract but also the collaborative and cooperative way both sides engaged in negotiating this agreement," School Board President Michael McCormick stated in the release.

Almost five years ago, Geneva teachers went on strike before a five-year contract was agreed upon.

This time, the parties brought in a facilitator from the Chicago office of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. He led them through an interest-based bargaining program and a process developed by the Chicago FMCS called the Affinity Method of Collaborative Bargaining, the release stated.

It resulted in reaching an agreement on all issues in just eight to 10 three-hour sessions. The economic issues, which involve the most difficult discussions, required just one six-hour session, the release stated.

"I hope this process goes a long way toward healing the wounds of the past and setting our future on a good course that is sustainable for the community and rewarding for our terrific staff," McCormick stated in the release.

GEA President Jordan Zimberoff stated in the release that the process was "intentionally collaborative."

"Overall, I think if both sides are willing to participate with open minds and honest, realistic solutions, the process is an excellent option to use," Zimberoff stated in the release.

The new contract is posted on the district's website at

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