Back to class: Contract agreement reached in Newton teachers strike after 11 days without school

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Students in Newton will return to the classroom Monday after the Newton Teachers Association and the Newton School Committee announced a tentative agreement on a new contract that ends a long teachers strike after 11 days without school in the city.

In a statement Friday night, the School Committee said it had reached a tentative agreement on a new four-year contract.

Although the terms of the deal were not immediately clear, an NTA spokesperson said the contract ensures increased access to mental health support for students, including social workers, a parental leave policy that removes discriminatory language and guarantees 40 days of paid leave and what Up to 60 total days, 15 days of FMLA leave, and increased starting salaries for aides and behavioral therapists.

“This contract reflects our values, including respect for our teachers,” a School Committee spokesperson said. “It enhances and expands meaningful support for students; meaningfully increases compensation for all employees, especially our building and classroom assistants; maintains Newton as a leader in benefits; and provides important flexibility for our leaders to enhance and innovate our system.”

School officials also acknowledged the pain the strike caused to students and parents alike.

“We will all need some time to heal, and we ask for patience and leadership from all adults in the NPS community,” the School Committee said. “This walkout has been traumatic for NPS families and the entire city of Newton. The committee looks forward to having students back in the classroom. We will take a breath, then get to work to ensure this never happens again.”

Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said in part that she was “thrilled” to have students and teachers back in their classrooms.

At approximately 9:00 p.m., NTA representative Ryan Normandin addressed a cheering crowd of Newton teachers, saying they had set a new standard for students to follow.

“We taught our students not to be afraid,” Normandin said. “We taught them that when those in power try to take away your rights, they have to stand up for themselves.”

When students return to class on Monday, they will do so an hour later than usual so teachers can spend part of the morning meeting with school officials and principals. Early care will also not be offered for another day.

“I regret the additional inconvenience to families. However, given the intensity of the strike and the extended work period leading up to the strike, we must use this time to reconnect our staff and principals and provide guidance and support to staff in preparation for the return of our students. Our top priorities are welcoming our students,” said Anna Nolen. Re-establish the classroom and school community, return to routines and schedules, and resume grade-level learning. To support the transition back to school, we have compiled expectations that support staff to respond succinctly and realistically to students’ questions about the strike and focus on resuming our normal routines.

Strike It began on January 19 after the NTA voted in favor of the strike In a push for new contract provisions including paid family leave for all teachers, a humane parental leave policy, livable wages for aides and behavioral therapists, and a social worker in every school, among other things.

With the addition of daily fines of $50,000 and the School Committee asking the court to double those fines to $100,000, the NTA returned to the negotiating table to obtain Marathon negotiation session with the city That lasted all night and finally ended around 6 a.m. on Friday.

There is no school in Newton as the teachers' strike enters its fifth day

There is no school in Newton as the teachers’ strike enters its fifth day

Schools in Newton closed as teachers went on strike

Schools in Newton closed as teachers went on strike

The two sides finally reached an agreement on a pay increase, but continued to argue over a return-to-work agreement that included the NTA’s request to increase the number of social workers in schools.

In an early morning press release, the NTA claimed that the committee “attempted to weaken agreements for social workers and change other agreements that affect teachers’ working conditions and students’ learning conditions.”

The NTA also criticized the School Committee for trying to “extort more than $1 million from teachers” as part of the return-to-work agreement.

Before sitting back at the negotiating table for a discussion at 1 p.m., A Newton Public Schools spokesperson announced “The School Committee and NTA negotiating teams are very close to settling the contract.”

As the strike continued into February, the families of some Newton students were affected Requests submitted To intervene and end the teachers’ strike. “Sad” and “bored” students and even “defeated” parents I wrote honest letters To a judge of Middlesex Superior Court, urging him to take action.

The agreement on a new contract comes a day after the School Committee meeting They voted to cancel February break to begin making up for lost school days.

Given the time lost, Governor Maura Healey’s administration also asked the court to appoint a third party to facilitate a legally binding decision between the NTA and the commission.

Under Massachusetts law, it is illegal for public sector workers, including teachers, to go on strike.

As of Friday, the NTA owed the commonwealth $625,000 for failing to end the illegal strike, which was the longest in Massachusetts in recent decades. NTA union president Mike Ziles told Boston 25 reporter Jason Low that the union plans to pay the fine before the end of the year.

Throughout the work stoppage, Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller expressed frustration with the NTA, explaining that funding for the new contract would not come at the expense of public safety and other city departments.

Emotions ran high on both sides during the strike, eventually boiling over It brought Newton School Committee Chairman Chris Brzezski to tears He announced on Wednesday that the strike had “gone too far.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates when more information is available.

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