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The Heart of the Problem

Sign the Petition: As a taxpayer in Geneva, I want the Board of Education to know that I understand the benefits to students of a step and lane salary schedule. I value the step and lane salary schedule and want it included in any future proposals to the Geneva Education Association.

This message is meant to explain the importance of a step and lane salary schedule in the education of Geneva’s students. You are probably thinking, “What does a step and lane salary schedule have to do with the education Geneva students receive, and why do the teachers care so much about it?” Simply put, this compensation model is what creates the environment of collegiality and collaboration that allows teachers to develop to their full potential, and it also allows districts to retain teachers for the length of their career, rather than just the first few years. Ultimately this is what benefits Geneva’s students.


Take a moment to think about the phrases used to describe working in the private sector:


  • It’s a dog eat dog world

  • Only the strong survive

  • Sink or Swim


Now think about whether that is the mindset you want teachers to have as they approach their jobs. The step and lane salary schedule shouldn’t just be what teachers want, it should be what every community wants. The step and lane salary schedule makes sure that all teachers are paid equally based on their experience and education. To the more cynical, this means teachers are compensated for continuing to show up to work every year.  But there is so much more to it than that.


When teachers start their career they start at the lowest salary. They also start their career with a steep learning curve. They take what they learned in college and apply it with kids in the real world. Each student has their own special way of learning and it takes years of experience to develop the empathy, knowledge, and understanding to unlock the full potential of every student. This is where the step and lane salary schedule is most valuable.


Every new teacher that begins a career in Geneva is welcomed with open arms by a staff possessing critical knowledge that only comes from time spent doing the job of teaching. This knowledge is freely shared because experienced teachers know all the challenges involved in having students succeed in school. The experienced teachers providing this support are making a higher salary. This salary reflects the experience they bring not just to their classroom, but to the colleagues they mentor.    


Now, consider the impact that a “private sector” compensation model being proposed by the Board of Education would have on this type of collaboration. Teachers with the same experience and level of education will now be making different salaries. A teacher with no experience may now be making the same or more than them. Will that encourage the same type of collegiality and collaboration? Ultimately, will a compensation model that creates winners and losers among staff foster the learning environment that Geneva students currently enjoy?


We believe the answer to this is a resounding no. This is why you continue to see the Geneva Education Association not be receptive to the proposals of the BOE. What is never said publicly in these proposals is that the raise being offered to Geneva teachers comes with a catch: the step and lane salary schedule goes away. The BOE has focused on the starting salary increasing, but their compensation model gives teachers no incentive to remain in Geneva past their first few years, nor does it promote teachers going back to school to earn advanced degrees. With the Board’s current proposal, most teachers who have been teaching more than four years would still be earning less money than surrounding districts.

The BOE’s current proposal of a 3% raise each time a teacher earns a designated numbers of graduate hours significantly discourages teachers from obtaining higher education degrees. Teachers who spend $20,000 and two years to earn a Master’s Degree would need approximately 5.5 years just to break even on what they paid for that degree. In addition, multiple teachers have been waiting as much as two years to earn their full Master’s pay from the district. With the Board’s proposal, those teachers would now receive far less compensation than they had previously anticipated. A teacher with eight years of experience who completed a Master’s Degree in 2016 was earning $51,366 last year and waiting to finally move into the Master’s lane this year. Under the previous contract, her pay would have increased from $51,366 to $57,033 this year. With the Board’s new proposal, she would earn $55,018 this year, $2,015 less. Future teachers would feel an even greater financial burden when they earn graduate credit, effectively discouraging any teachers from ever furthering their education in Geneva.


If Geneva were to eliminate the step and lane salary schedule, our district would be the only one in Kane County utilizing a new and untested compensation model. Teachers expect to be paid by a step and lane method because it is the standard in our occupation. Using a new system puts Geneva at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to recruiting and retaining quality teachers.


Taxpayers in Geneva continue to ask what steps they can take to help resolve this situation.  If you are a taxpayer in Geneva, please consider adding your name to the following petition that will be delivered to the Board of Education.


Sign the Petition: As a taxpayer in Geneva, I want the Board of Education to know that I understand the benefits to students of a step and lane salary schedule. I value the step and lane salary schedule and want it included in any future proposals to the Geneva Education Association.  

Previous Contract Salary Schedule Language

In the School Board’s 304 Connects email on October 24th, they wrote, “The union continued to request a salary schedule similar to the structure which both parties had agreed to eliminate as part of the last contract agreement.”


Simply put, this is not true and is misleading.


The 2015-2018 contract language reads as follows:

“The Board and the Association agree that the current salary schedule model will be replaced after the termination date of this Agreement. In its place, the Board and Association will collaborate, beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, to create and recommend a new schedule to take effect at the start of the successor collective bargaining agreement (2018-2019). In creating this new schedule, the Board and Association may utilize whatever resources or consultants they deem necessary to create the new schedule. In the event that the parties are unable to agree on the new schedule, negotiations for the successor agreement will begin from the premise that no salary schedule exists and that the parties will negotiate the creation of the new schedule, if any. Such negotiations will begin from the aggregate value of the salary schedule for the school year ending 2017-2018, as adjusted for any change (increase or decrease) to the number of full-time equivalent teachers employed by the Board for the 2018-2019 school year.”


In this language, the GEA never agreed to eliminate a salary schedule, as the Board is claiming. The terminology clearly reads that, “the parties will negotiate the creation of a new schedule, if any.” At no point does the contract state that the GEA cannot make proposals that resemble or are even identical to a step and lane salary schedule. 


On multiple occasions in the current negotiations, the GEA has offered a hybrid salary model that included part of what the Board has asked for and part of what the GEA has requested. The board has not yet presented a proposal that included any of what the GEA has requested. The GEA will continue to negotiate in good faith to reach a contract that is fair to the community and will also begin to return Geneva teacher salaries to a competitive level with the rest of Kane County. This is what the GEA believes is best for students.

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