GENEVA — Geneva Education Association (GEA) members today voted to ratify the tentative agreement reached by the GEA bargaining team and the District 304 Board of Education. The GEA has been on strike since Tues., Dec. 4. The tentative, five-year agreement was reached at about 4 a.m. today. The ratification vote happened this afternoon.
“We truly believe this deal will make our students stronger and will make our schools stronger,” GEA President Kevin Gannon said. “We went into the negotiations with a reasonable request: make us average when it comes to our salaries. This contract does that. That said this is not everything. It took us several years to become nearly the lowest paid teachers in Kane County, and it will take several more to make us whole again.”
This contract is a compromise. It will include both the traditional step and lane salary schedule that compensates teachers based on education and experience and also includes the boards’ hybrid salary schedule. Teachers with advanced degrees will now be compensated for those degrees. This contract will truly allow us to both attract new and talented educators and retain our experienced, veteran teachers.
“This deal today has a large impact on me. I earned my masters’ degree in reading at the end of this last summer, and I was prepared to wait until the 2020-21 school year to earn compensation for that degree,” Western Avenue School first grade teacher Megan Wassell said. “It’s a step in the right direction that the board of education removed the lane governance, and I will start earning compensation for the learning that I’m already using in my classroom immediately.”
Throughout the negotiations process that began in February, GEA teachers received over-whelming support from parents, students and community members. Parents and community members joined members on the picket line, spread our positive message online and marched alongside of us.
“Despite all the amazing support, these past seven days have been filled with uncertainty, fear and at times, anger. Our teachers are people: they are moms, dads, members of our community, just like my family. Now that this is over, we all need to go back to regular routines,” said Alicia Saxton, Geneva District 304 parent. “I knew I had to keep supporting our teachers throughout this ordeal. These are my neighbors, my friends, and most importantly, they are helping shape my kids’ lives. They are extremely important to me and our community.”
The GEA represents 465 teachers in District 304’s nine schools and serves the district’s 5,800 students. GEA is prepared to go back to work tomorrow, Tues., Dec. 11.
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.