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Strike keeps Geneva schools closed Friday

No agreement was reached between school board, union at bargaining session

Teachers walk a picket line on Tuesday outside of Geneva High School. Members of their union decided to strike after failing to negotiate a new contract with School District 304.
Teachers walk a picket line on Tuesday outside of Geneva High School. Members of their union decided to strike after failing to negotiate a new contract with School District 304.

GENEVA – Geneva schools remained closed Friday morning after no contract agreement was reached between the Geneva Education Association, the union that represents the district’s 450 teachers, and the Geneva School District 304 Board at Thursday night’s bargaining session.

The two groups were set to meet again Friday night.

According to a Friday news release from the district, the board and the union exchanged preliminary proposals Thursday, but did not come to an agreement. The union then presented a new proposal and the board must now consider its financial impact, the release stated.

According to a news release from the district on Thursday, teacher salaries continue to be a sticking point. The board states that its most recent proposal provides more than $5.5 million, or a nearly 18 percent increase in teacher compensation across all staff members, amounting to an increase between $9,567 and $12,949 for an individual full-time teacher on the salary schedule over the four-year contract.

But another point of contention has been the absence of a traditional step-and-lane salary model.

Step-and-lane is a salary schedule that compensates teachers for experience and continuing their education. The district’s last proposal did not include this traditional salary schedule in favor of offering flat increases each year of the contract.

The union rejected the last offer, asserting that it created a large disparity of salary increases between early career teachers and veteran educators.

But the official word from the Board of Education is that proposals by both the board and the Geneva Education Association feature a non-traditional step and lane schedule.

The district model provides all teachers both a percentage salary increase and an additional dollar increase, while the GEA’s reverts back to the historical percentage-based increase.

The board disagrees that “only a traditional salary model will encourage educators to stay in Geneva 304,” the Thursday release stated.

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