Geneva teachers to strike if Monday night negotiations fail

GENEVA, Ill. (WLS) -- Teachers in west suburban Geneva said they will strike if a deal on their new contract isn't reached Monday night.

Teachers and the Geneva District 304 school board are fighting desperately to avoid a strike.

"That's what everybody here wants to see, what community wants to see, and we're hoping we can get it done," said Kevin Gannon, president of the Geneva Education Association.

A bargaining team headed into what may be the last negotiation session with the school board, a last ditch effort to try and strike a deal and keep 459 teachers in the classroom.

The two sides have been going back and forth over salaries, pay increases and the scale by which teachers are paid at Kane County's best ranked schools.

"A step and lane schedule ensures that the public sector job of an educator is compensated equitably for how they progress across their profession," said parent Kerri Heilman.

The most recent offer from the school board proposed a 17 percent increase to new teachers' salaries over the course of a four year contract. But that's only for new teachers, the union said.

"If there's a sophomore down at ISU in education they're going to get a 17 percent increase in beginning salary when they get here," Gannon said. "Our 19 year career teacher with a double masters who invested in her education and is doing a great job in a classroom, 4 years from now will see a 1.2 percent increase in their ending salary."

Geneva teachers said that kind of increase offer is a non-starter. Monday night a fresh offer was on the table for the school board.

"Our main goal is to bring some of the starting pay of beginning teachers up yet maintaining the salary for the teachers that are on the top end of our salary," said Mark Grosso, president of the Geneva School Board.

The contract they'd been working under expired August 15. The union said Monday night is the district's last chance to make a deal, or teachers say they'll walk off the job.

"This is incredibly important to me because it will determine whether I stay in Geneva for my career or I have to start looking for jobs elsewhere," said Jordan Brewner, seventh grade English teacher.

Negotiations were ongoing as of 11 p.m. Monday.
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