GENEVA — The Geneva School District 304 School Board refuses to negotiate with the Geneva Education Association bargaining team until Sun., Dec. 9. In an attempt to convince the board to negotiate with the full GEA bargaining team sooner, GEA will hold a rally with their membership and the community at Geneva High School this afternoon.
“We want to get this situation wrapped up as soon as possible, and the only way we can come to a solution is to get both our bargaining teams to the table,” said GEA President Kevin Gannon. “We are hopeful the board will put our students first and decide to meet with us before Sunday.”
The two main sticking points of the contract negotiations center around retaining veteran teachers. The GEA offer includes a traditional step and lane salary schedule. Step and lane schedules focus on compensating teachers for experience and continuing education. It’s a model that’s been used for 50 years in Kane County and is also used by every other school district in the county. Aside from the board’s latest proposal not including a traditional step and lane salary schedule, the board’s proposal also includes a large disparity between salary increases for early career teachers and veteran educators.
“Our students deserve the benefit of quality educators both those that are starting their careers and those that have several years of experience,” Gannon said. “What the board is proposing is essentially a farm league for teachers. They’ll come to Geneva to train for a few years before moving to another school district that pays them better and gives them better benefits. We have to do better for our students. We have to get talented teachers here and keep them here. This is about longevity.”
The GEA represents 465 teachers in District 304’s nine schools and serves the district’s 5,800 students. The GEA and Geneva School District 304 have been in negotiations since February. GEA teachers have been working without a contract since Aug. 15. In September, GEA members voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike. On Tues., Dec. 4 GEA went on strike.
Today’s rally begins at 2:30 p.m. at Geneva High School (416 McKinley Ave., Geneva). The next negotiating session between the board and GEA is scheduled for the afternoon on Sun., Dec. 9 at Coultrap Educational Services Center (227 N. 4th St., Geneva). The time for that negotiating session is still to be determined.
The 135,000 member Illinois Education Association (IEA-NEA) is the state’s largest education employee’s organization. IEA represents preK-12 teachers outside of the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.