I am a Geneva teacher. I am a Geneva taxpayer.
I am retiring from teaching after this academic year, removing any professional monetary influence from my interest in the ongoing negotiations between the Geneva Education Association and the board of education.
At the end of this school year, I will have completed 28½ years of teaching, 17 of those years serving as a Geneva music teacher, having the opportunity to work with thousands of Geneva students and their families. I hold a Master of Arts in Teaching. I was named the Geneva Elementary Educator of the Year in 2002 and nominated as a Distinguished Kane County Educator that same year. I am a National Board Certified Teacher.
I recognized that as a teacher I was an appreciated member of a dedicated learning community that sought educational excellence for its students and encouraged and expected educational growth, development and excellence from its teachers. I found a community partnership of parents, administrators and teachers that worked in a congenial and collegial manner to strive for excellence for all the children of Geneva.
The growth and development of a young person takes a village – or in our case a city, a city of devoted parents, family, community members and dedicated administrators and teachers. I am a small part of this city, but I am passionate about what I do and I take my responsibilities very seriously, as do my colleagues.
My husband and I have lived in Geneva for 33 years, raising three sons that were fortunate to begin and complete their K-12 education in this community that we chose for its educational excellence. We would like to see our property values maintained and an excellent school system, in our opinion, is the best way to attract new families to Geneva. We knew that tax revenue used for community services came primarily from residential real estate taxes. Informed families knew this when they chose to purchase a home in Geneva.
The facts are Geneva ranks 14th in the state on the 2012 PSAE test scores, according to the ISBE report from October 30, 2012. We rank higher than Naperville North and Central, Wheaton, Batavia, St. Charles, Hinsdale South, Barrington, Main South and Glenbard South, just to name a few. Our per-pupil instructional expenditure was $6,393 in 2010-11, $431 less than the state average, and three to four times less than many districts in Illinois. The top 10 average teacher salaries in communities in Illinois range from $104,174 to $116,044. We are nowhere close to these numbers.
I am perplexed as to why our community is not open to listening to the facts in regard to the contract, either by attending an informational coffee, going to the Geneva Education Association website, www.gea4students.org, or speaking directly to GEA President Carol Young.
I am concerned about the future education of Geneva children if we do not offer a competitive salary package comparable to neighboring communities. We run the risk of becoming a training ground for emerging teachers, who will eventually go to a district that offers a more attractive salary schedule and benefits package. The impact of that will rip at the community inversely to the way we built it.
I will support Geneva teachers – now as a teacher, going forward as a taxpayer.
• Kathleen Chroust currently teaches general music at Heartland Elementary School. She is one of 12 National Board Certified Teachers in Geneva. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.