At last, it's over.
Geneva School District 304 put an end to eight months of contract negotiations Tuesday, when it voted 6-0 to ratify a new three-year agreement with the Geneva Education Association.
In a brief opening statement, School Board President Mark Grosso called for the community to come together and "begin mending any strained relationships that may have occurred during this process."
The contract summary released Tuesday by the Geneva Board of Education signals fundamental changes in the ways District 304 rewards employees for quality work.
Under past contracts, teachers received yearly across-the-board "step" increases, plus cost-of-living increases, plus up to nine "lane" salary increases for completing coursework toward advanced degrees. They also received higher percentage increases near the end of their careers, boosting salaries prior to retirement and padding pensions, a practice sometimes called "salary spiking."
As part of the new contract, the GEA and School Board agreed to establish a joint Salary Schedule Study Group, which will "address the issue of future compensation for teachers," and could include performance-based evaluations.
"A number of other districts have moved away from a salary schedule, and we wanted an opportunity to explore other options," Grosso said.
The new contract is retroactive to the end of the previous contract, which expired in August. Two of the previous "sticking points" during the negotiations were salary and pre-retirement pay increases.
Under the three-year agreement, teachers will have an early retirement option as well as an option to give standard notice of retirement prior to 2015. The contract offers significant retirement incentives, including salary increases and a tax-seltered annuity.
School Board members said the window for those benefits will be closed at the conclusion of the contract, on Aug. 15, 2015.
"In effect, the salary spiking sunsets at the end of the contract," School Board member Bill Wilson said.
2012-13 — A freeze for all teachers except those who qualify for lane advancement based on completed graduate coursework and teachers who have submitted retirement notice.
2013-14 — A 2.65 percent "step" increase for all teachers, except:
- Teachers at the bottom of the salary schedule—with 22 or more years of service—will receive a $1,000 salary increase rather than an automatic 1.5 percent over the previous year's salary.
- Teachers may move one lane advancement.
- Teachers who have submitted retirement notice will receive increases based on the retirement agreement.
2014-15 — A 2.85 percent salary increase, made up of a 2.65 percent step and a .2 percent increase to the salary schedule for all teachers, with the same exceptions as 2013-14.
The entry-level salary—for a teacher with a bachelor's degree and no previous teaching experience—remains at $39,651 for 2012-13 and 2013-14, then increases to $39,730 in 2014-15.
An eligible teacher submitting a retirement notice by Jan. 15, 2013, and who intends to retire at the end of 2014-15 will receive the following increases:
- 2012-13: 6 percent
- 2013-14: 3 percent
- 2014-15: 2.48 percent
An eligible teacher submitting a retirement notice by Aug. 15, 2013, and who intends to retire at the end of 2014-15 will receive the following increases:
- 2013-14: 6 percent
- 2014-15: 3 percent
An eligible teacher submitting a retirement notice by Aug. 15, 2014, and who intends to retire at the end of 2014-15 will receive the following increases:
- 2014-15: 6 percent
An eligible teacher submitting retirement notice in any of the three years will receive a post-retirment benefit of 20 percent for 25-plus years of service, 15 percent for 20-24 years of service and 10 percent for 15-19 years of service.
- Tuition reimbursement will be phased out over three years.
- Premiums for health insurance will be reduced from 100 percent to 95 percent for the final two years of the contract.
- The release time for the GEA president will be reduced to .5 full-time equivalent.
- Teacher planning time has been clarified.
- Teachers will have more input on filling committee vacancies, building leadership teams and professional development.
- A teacher-administration communication team will be established.
- Non-union members will not be forced to pay a "fair share" of union dues.
- Language has been changed regarding involuntary transfer.
- There will be no change in the teacher work day.
- Language has been added regarding security cameras in the workplace, such that cameras are not used to observe or evaluate performance.
- The number of release days for special education teachers will be increased.
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