Teachers in far west suburban Geneva went on strike early Tuesday, announcing their walkout overnight after contract negotiations failed to result in a deal once again.
There will be no school Tuesday for more than 5,000 students at nine schools in Geneva School District 304, as teachers began gathering early to walk the picket lines.
Teachers with the Geneva Education Association held a rally Monday afternoon that kicked off a nearly eight-hour bargaining session overnight. Talks broke off early Tuesday at around 1:30 a.m. without an agreement in place.
The main sticking point is salary for the nearly 500 teachers in nine schools in the top-ranked Geneva school district. They've been without a contract since August and claim that they're paid far less than colleagues in neighboring districts and can barely make ends meet.
A statement on the Geneva School District's website says it has offered a "$5.3 million, or a 17% increase, in new money for teacher compensation over the life of the proposed four-year contract."
High school teacher and president of the teachers' union Kevin Gannon said his members have more than one issue with the districts proposal, including that 17 percent increase he said will only be offered to new teachers and not veterans.
The union ultimately rejected the district's proposal based on that structure that gave a bigger raise to newer teachers and a smaller increase to the more experienced ones at the top of the pay scale.
"Our educators want nothing more than to be in their classrooms instead of out on a picket line. This is our last resort," Gannon said in a statement. "We remain open to meeting with the board anytime to reach a tentative agreement and return to our students."
"We want to make sure we can attract and retain quality educators and so far board of education not willing to do that," Illinois Education Association spokeswoman Bridget Shanahan added.
"The Board of Education is grateful for the many calls and emails urging both parties to resolve their differences and to put the needs of our students first by reaching agreement on a fair and fiscally responsible multi-year contract that compensates our teachers fairly and competitively for their work, while operating within the financial means of the District and advancing the best interests of all District 304 stakeholders, including our students, parents and community," the district said in a statement on its website.
No negotiating sessions have been scheduled, and the school plans to update families daily on developments with the strike.
The strike in Geneva began the same day that teachers at Chicago's Acero school network hit the picket lines in a separate strike - the first against a charter operator in U.S. history.