Negotiation Update 12/6
A Message from GEA President, Kevin Gannon
Last night the GEA presented the BOE with a proposal in the hope of achieving a tentative agreement. Both negotiation teams are meeting again at 6:30 tonight when the BOE will present their response proposal. If we achieve a TA by the end of Friday night, the GEA team could meet with their membership over the weekend for a ratification vote and get students back into the classroom on Monday morning. Our educators miss their students.
To that end, the GEA reached out to the BOE and made a significant move toward a resolution. The GEA offered a compromise to the Board by presenting a four-year deal that includes the Board’s EXACT Hybrid Model and exact salary numbers in the first two years before reverting back to a traditional Step and Lane model in the third and fourth year. By starting the first two years with the BOE hybrid model, GEA addresses the BOE goal of substantially improving the starting salary of new teachers. Then by ending the contract with a traditional step and lane schedule, we preserve the GEA’s long-term goal of retaining teachers in our district.
The GEA’s proposal moves insurance and coaching/activity stipends toward being competitive, but Geneva teachers will still pay more for their insurance premium than almost every other surrounding district. The GEA is still fighting to move our compensation package toward the average of Kane County.
What We Need From You, Our Community...
You have been beyond incredible in supporting our educators, but we must ask you for one more favor. Call or email the Board asking them to come to a tentative agreement Friday night so our students can return to school on Monday. As much as we have loved the donuts, coffee, and kind words, nothing compares to the joy we feel when we interact with our students every day.
The Board of Education can be contacted through the Board Secretary at (630) 463-3010 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Timeline of December 6 Negotiation Session
The GEA delivered their proposal to the Board at the beginning of the meeting.
The Board presented a counter-proposal.
The GEA presented a second proposal.
The Board asked the GEA for more time to evaluate the GEA’s proposal.
The GEA requested to meet with the Board again as soon as possible.
The Board agreed to meet with the GEA on Friday at 6:30 P.M.
The GEA requested to schedule more negotiation sessions with the Board yesterday 12/4. The BOE initially responded that the full BOE negotiation team was not available until Sunday. To achieve a tentative agreement, the full teams need to meet, which is why the GEA requested to meet with the full groups. This afternoon the BOE requested a session for tomorrow, Thursday. Both sides will be meeting at 7:00 P.M.
The next Board meeting is Monday, Dec. 10. Currently that meeting is scheduled to take place at Coultrap Educational Services Center.
The Model Is The Problem
Many of your reply emails are asking for specifics. You have seen many data points coming from the Board that have been chosen specifically to defend their position.
The two parties are actually close on total cost of salary. The Board’s specific hybrid model is the hold up because it creates inequity in teacher compensation and does not encourage teachers to remain in Geneva.
Rather than explain why we value the traditional step and lane salary schedule again, we will focus instead on what isn’t in the language the Board uses to talk about its hybrid salary schedule. The language in the latest email talks about providing certainty around teacher compensation. The question the GEA has continued to ask is, will it provide certainty of quality? We currently have a salary schedule that has produced quality for 50 years and fostered collaboration. The hybrid model in the Board proposal places the incentives to attract teachers at the beginning of their career. But as those teachers gain experience and see their career earnings fall behind those in other districts, will those same teachers stay in Geneva? The answer to this question is critical to the continued excellence of Geneva schools.
Details of The GEA Proposal
Remember that with each proposal GEA puts forth:
GEA proposals would only move us back toward the average of other districts in Kane County.
GEA proposals would not require the district to raise property taxes above the normal CPI increase.
GEA proposals would not require the district to cut teachers or programs. The district currently has a $22.3 million budget surplus.
Addressing Claims By the Board
The Board wrote about its most recent offer, “This proposal reflects the Board’s willingness to compromise and use a model adopted by the Board and the GEA under the direction of the mediator.” This is entirely untrue. The GEA bargaining team never agreed to the board’s model. We remain committed to working with the board to come to a fair agreement as soon as possible.
The Board has also implied that strike days will not be made up. If this is the case, each day they delay a settlement by refusing to negotiate is another day of our students’ education lost. The GEA is committed to negotiating that these days be made up.
Why Is This Not Yet Resolved?
The Board has yet to submit a proposal using the traditional step and lane salary schedule. In its email Tuesday morning, the Board spoke of, “reaching an agreement on a fair and fiscally responsible multi-year contract that compensates our teachers fairly and competitively for their work, while operating within the financial means of the District and advancing the best interests of all District 304 stakeholders, including our students, parents and community.” The GEA also agrees with this sentiment, but we strongly believe the difference in salary models is what needs to be examined. We offer two key points in our explanation:
The need for a traditional step and lane salary schedule: We have gone to great lengths to explain why the traditional step and lane salary schedule is critical to the success of educators and their students in Geneva Schools. It is also true that every other district in Kane County uses this type of schedule. The Board has proposed a schedule, but it is not a traditional step and lane schedule, which Geneva has used for more than 50 years. The board’s offer would be a switch to an untested model for determining salaries. The GEA has serious concerns with this new approach.
No Effort to Retain Quality Teachers: The Board proposal gives a much higher percent raise to newer educators, while giving smaller percent raises to experienced educators. While this will allow them to attract new educators, it will not allow Geneva to retain quality educators. Once our new teachers have gotten a few years of experience, they will leave for other districts that compensate more competitively than Geneva would. This gives current Geneva educators with five or more years of experience less of a reason to remain in the district. Over the four year period of the district’s contract proposal, the ending salary (22 years experience plus a Double Master’s Degree) would only increase by 2.5%. This discrepancy in pay is a result of the board’s hybrid schedule.
Please take the time to read through our full explanation of why a traditional step and lane salary schedule is important by clicking here. If you only have a minute, here is why we believe this salary model is important.
It Encourages Educators to Stay in Geneva- Educators who feel appreciated and rewarded throughout their career will put down roots and stay in Geneva. Our students deserve the benefit of learning from experienced educators. The Board states that they want to “attract and retain” quality teachers, but their proposed hybrid model only attracts new teachers. It does not provide the financial incentive to retain them for the life of their career.
It Encourages Collaboration- Young educators need time to master their craft. They need support and guidance from experienced educators. Having a compensation model that encourages collaboration is critical.
It Does Not Create Winners and Losers With Compensation- The traditional step and lane salary schedule rewards educators appropriately throughout their career. This is why the most experienced teachers make the most money. They are being rewarded not just for the experience they bring to the classroom, but for the colleagues that they mentor.
Parents for GEA on Facebook
Several community members have created a facebook group to express their support for Geneva teachers. This group provides an opportunity for supportive members of the community to have a safe space to meet one another. We are grateful for this effort and wanted to support it by passing along the link: https://www.facebook.com/ParentsforGEA/