GENEVA – The Geneva District 304 school board voted unanimously to approve a new five-year teacher contract at a special meeting Dec. 14.
Except for Superintendent Kent Mutchler saying, “It’s good to have everyone back in school,” the board made no comment about the drawn-out contentious contract talks or the district’s first-ever strike.
Teachers walked out Dec. 4 and were on strike for five days before a tentative agreement was reached after marathon bargaining sessions, officials said.
The contract covers the 2018-19, 2019-20, 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years, according to a news release from the district.
The total package is estimated to cost $6.1 million, which equates to an average salary increase of 19.6 percent over five years, or 3.92 percent in each of the five years, according to the release.
Teachers will also receive additional compensation for educational advancement as specified in the new contract, the release stated.
Changes were made to the structure of the District’s salary schedule, retirement plan, and extracurricular stipend payments. No changes were made to the District’s health insurance program.
In addition to salary and benefit matters, the school board of and the Geneva Education Association agreed to changes and additions to certain working conditions in the best interest of the students, staff, school district and community, the release stated.
The new agreement was not publicly available immediately after the school board meeting, but will be posted on the school district's website, www.geneva304.org, by the end of December, officials said.
The school board’s action follows ratification of the proposal by the teachers union Dec. 10, which sent teachers back to work and students back to school on Dec. 11.
At a news conference in front of Geneva High School to announce the ratification, Geneva Education Association President Kevin Gannon said the contract is a true compromise, with neither side getting everything it wanted.
The main sticking point in contract talks was the school board offering a different salary model that teachers said would hurt younger teachers’ future earnings and did not fairly compensate them for advanced degrees.
The new contract includes some years of the board’s new model and some years of the teachers’ traditional step-and-lane salary schedule, Gannon had said.
Because teachers will have to make up one day instead of the five they were on strike, parent Alicia Saxon asked the board to be notified of how the district will spend the money it did not use to pay teacher salaries for the remaining four days of missed school during the strike.