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D304 quickly ready to look beyond strife

Updated: December 14, 2012 6:15AM

GENEVA — Less than 16 hours after School District 304 teachers and Board of Education members hammered out a new contract, the strike that didn’t happen had become history.

Nobody wore a green Geneva Education Association T-shirt to Monday evening’s board meeting, although one teacher tearfully thanked the board for its role in the 11th-hour settlement.

District officials made no mention of the tentative contract’s terms or of the unfair-labor-practice charge that the GEA lodged Saturday with the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board.

And only two residents even mentioned the conflict that polarized the entire city for weeks. Within 20 minutes, spectators and board members alike were fully engaged in deciding the size of the district’s 2013 property tax levy.

The only impassioned speech came from resident Leila Fakhoury who protested the vitriolic comments some people posted on local news sites against the teachers’ contract demands.

“I think Geneva owes the teachers an apology for the way people have been talking about them,” she asserted.

“It is not greedy to ask for a cost-of-living wage increase. The teachers have taken a very high road. I never heard a teacher say anything derogatory about the board or the residents. My daughter didn’t know what was going on because the teachers never mentioned it in the classroom. I have heard some people say they want to get confrontational with their children’s teachers when they come in for parent-teacher conferences next week, and I don’t think the teachers deserve that. The value of my house is tied to the quality of the schools that the teachers provide.”

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