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No new contract as District 304 teachers go back to school

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012 4:46 p.m. CDT

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GENEVA – More than 400 Geneva School District 304 teachers will return to work today without a new contract. The previous work agreement expired Aug. 15.

The bargaining unit is in mediation, Geneva Education Association president Carol Young said.

“We are continuing negotiations,” Young said. “We are working under the terms of the previous contract.”

Under the rules of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, contract talks can go into mediation if an agreement is not reached within 45 days of a current contract’s expiration. The district and the GEA started negotiations in February, officials said.

Should an impasse occur, both sides’ last best offers are made public and posted online at www2.illinois.gov/elrb, said John Brosnan, an attorney for the labor board.

A bargaining unit has to give a 10-day notice of an intent to strike, he said. Under the new rules, the 10-day notice includes holidays and weekends, according to the website.

Young said she was being cautious in her statements because the union and district officials have a confidentiality agreement.

“We are still negotiating,” school board President Mark Grosso said.

At the Aug. 13 school board meeting, about 100 teachers stood as high school science department chairman Kevin Gannon addressed the board on their behalf.

“Our students rank as some of the best in the state, yet our teachers are paid significantly less than many of our neighboring districts, such as Batavia and St. Charles,” Gannon said.

“From an educational perspective, we believe the way to maintain a school district that consistently attracts, hires and retains the high quality teachers needed to serve its students is to invest in its teachers,” Gannon said. “We believe an investment in teachers will produce the best returns for our students and the community, especially in times like these.”

Gannon noted the district’s surplus in its education fund, acknowledging that officials want to use it to pay down the debt and lower the community’s tax burden, something teachers support, as well.

“However, we also know that to maintain the quality of our district, to continue to provide excellent education for the children of the community, you need to support your greatest and our greatest assets – our students – by investing in their teachers,” Gannon said.

Gannon urged officials to work together “to figure out a way to support both the community and the teachers.”

“Together, we can accomplish both of these goals and in doing so, we will be able to continue the ‘Tradition of Excellence’ that we are so proud of here in Geneva,” Gannon said.

According to the 2011 state report cards, Geneva’s average annual teacher salary is $72,395, more than St. Charles District 303, whose average teacher salary is $71,711 but less than Batavia District 101, with an average teacher salary of $76,599.

According to the teachers contracts posted on the sites of the districts, the salary range for Geneva was $39,651 to $99,069 for the 2011-12 school year.

For St. Charles, the salary range is $42,250 to $90,501 for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years. And for Batavia, the salary range for 2012-13 is $40,905 to $108,632.

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