School sports on hold during Geneva teachers' strike
Striking teachers in Geneva School District 304 have forced the postponement of numerous high school athletic events this weekend, including boys and girls basketball home games originally scheduled for tonight.
David Carli, athletic director at Geneva High School, told the Kane County Reporter that no athletic events, home or away, will take place as long as the now four-day-old strike continues.
“Some [coaches] are teachers, but not all,” Carli said when asked why the events had to be postponed. “And during a work stoppage, it’s a school district event, so there can’t be any events.”
The girls varsity basketball team and the boys sophomore team were both scheduled to play St. Charles North today at 5.30 p.m. Other earlier scheduled weekend events now postponed include wrestling, gymnastics, bowling, dance and cheer. The teams compete as the Vikings.
Negotiations between the board and the Geneva Education Association, the union representing the teachers, were scheduled to continue tonight at 6.30 p.m. after news outlets reported some progress in the talks on Thursday.
The teachers walked out Tuesday after the union rejected a board offer late Monday night.
Board president Mark Grosso said that the offer from the board covering teachers on the salary schedule (most fall into this category) over the next four years was a 1.6 percent increase in each year of the first three years and a 1.15 percent in the fourth, plus increases ranging from $1,600 to $1,900 each year.
Contract negotiations started in February, with discussions about salary starting in late spring. The contract expired in August.
An analysis by the Kane County Reporter showed that local taxpayers are paying increasingly higher amounts of taxes while students concurrently have diminishing test scores. In fact, twice as much is being spent on high schools in the county as 20 years ago, but ACT scores have fallen over the same period.
From 1997 to 2017, public high school districts in the county increased their annual tax spending from $819 million to $1.65 billion, an increase of 101 percent, adjusted for inflation. Enrollment increased just 39 percent, from 78,356 to 108,812.
ACT scores countywide fell from 21.8 in 1997—higher than the then-state average of 21.3—to 20.4 in 2017, now lower than the state average of 21.4.
Some local taxpayers are distraught at the prospect of yet another property tax increase to fund the added costs for the teachers after the strike is settled.