NEWTON, Mass. — After 10 days of missed school due to a teachers’ strike in Newton, Massachusetts, bargaining teams are reportedly nearing a resolution in the contract negotiations. The strike, which began on Jan. 19, has left students out of the classroom as both sides work to reach an agreement. The Newton School Committee stated that the teams are “extremely close to settling a contract,” despite previously being at odds on key issues.
The school committee revealed that both sides have agreed to cost of living adjustments for all members, with a focus on honoring educators and paraprofessionals while ensuring sustainability over the life of the contract. However, there are remaining issues related to the flexibility the district seeks in managing the school day’s structure to best serve the students, according to the committee.
The union accused the school committee of reopening previous elements of the contract, with a Newton South High School history teacher expressing frustration at what was perceived as nitpicking behavior from the committee. On the other hand, the committee chair cited “money” as the remaining issue at hand, a claim disputed by the Newton Teachers Association.
Both parties seemingly reached several agreements on various issues, including parental leave policies, contract duration, paraprofessional compensation, class size matters, and the inclusion of social workers in school buildings. The school committee’s latest proposal would reportedly result in a substantial salary increase for teachers over a 4-year contract period.
Furthermore, the union has called upon city officials to allocate more funds in the budget for teachers, emphasizing the need to find a resolution and end the divisive rhetoric and anger surrounding the strike. The ongoing strike has led the Newton School Committee to modify the school calendar, eliminating four days of vacation during February break, with the likelihood of more makeup days if the strike continues.
The state of Massachusetts has intervened, requesting courts to hold twice daily status conferences and, if necessary, turn to binding arbitration if an agreement is not reached by late Friday. The Secretary of Education expressed concern over the prolonged closure of schools in Newton due to the strike, emphasizing the importance of keeping students in the classroom and supporting the hardworking educators.
As the negotiations continue, the significant impact on students and the community remains a primary concern, as both parties work towards a resolution to end the strike and return students to their classrooms.