Brookline cancels school Monday over teacher strike

·4 min read

The President of the Brookline Educators Union confirms as many as 1,000 teachers will be striking outside every school in the district on Monday after ongoing failed contract negotiations throughout the weekend. Due to the picketing teachers, district officials say they’ve canceled classes for the day. The Superintendent of Schools made notification to Brookline families Sunday afternoon.

“There will simply not be the staffing capacity to operate all schools safely, nor can PSB provide the structured education required by the state for the day to legally count as a school day,” Superintendent Linus Guillory wrote in a letter to families.

On Thursday, members of the Brookline Educators Union voted “overwhelmingly” in favor of starting a strike on Monday should they fail to reach an agreement with the Brookline School Committee this weekend. Both sides could not come to an agreement after nearly nine hours of negotiations.

Guillory said an additional mediation session has been scheduled for Monday evening. Since negotiations may run late on Monday, an announcement about a potential school closure the following day will come no later than 6 a.m. on Tuesday, according to Guillory.

“Brookline educators have been working for nearly three years without a contract that recognizes fair and reasonable compensation as well as the working conditions that meet the realities of modern, comprehensive education,” written in a statement from the Brookline Educators Union.

The BEU’s terms include guaranteed duty-free prep time, time for colleagues to collaborate weekly and substantive action on attracting and retaining educators of color.

“Brookline educators can no longer tolerate the School Committee’s dismissive attitude toward educators or its willingness to dismantle the quality of our schools,” the union said in a statement. “We remain open to negotiating with the School Committee throughout Sunday and beyond, to resolve a fair contract that preserves the working and learning conditions that our students and educators deserve.”

According to a statement from the Brookline School Committee, a preliminary injunction was issued against the union on Friday in Norfolk County Superior Court that prohibits them from striking or threatening to strike.

The School Committee said its offer included a 6% pay increase from 2020-2023 followed by an 8% raise from 2023-2026. The board also said it proposed a forum to address issues of “justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.”

“Nonetheless, the BEU has announced its intention to strike beginning on Monday, May 16. More information will be provided to the community later today, including whether schools will be open Monday,” the School Committee said.

Lisa Scher has a son who is a senior in Brookline, “I feel bad for the kids, because it is the end of the school year. But I understand the teachers point of view, three years. Everyone else has had pay increases, they have not and school committee has just dug their heals in and they don’t seem to be flexible.”

Another Brookline mother who did not want to appear, but says she is against the teachers striking, “I don’t support the strike don’t feel useful for teachers to make their demands that way, hurting them in the end anger a lot of parents in Brookline.”

Jessica Wender-Shebow is the Brookline Educators Union President. She told Boston 25 News, “This strike it says show us that you respect our voice, we’re in this together we’re a shared responsibility to the staff and administration, you should not be afraid to commit to us, don’t come to us later and say sorry there’s nothing left for you we’ve already spent it been getting it for too long. The critical issue at 3 o’clock Sunday morning , ‘does a teacher have a right to have a 30 minute or a 40 minute duty free period in a seven hour day? We have teachers working seven or eight hours and they have not one single duty free break, this is crushing them!”

Regarding the district Wender-Shebow added, “They don’t want to commit to retaining staff of color in a competitive environment and these crucially needed educators, our students need them, teachers need them, would not do it all asking for a report how are you dealing with this?”

As of May 12th, David Pearlman is the new School Committee Chairman. He told Boston 25 news, “Our first priority is always the wellbeing of our students. District leadership and School Committee members will be meeting throughout the day and maintaining direct communication with caregivers. The district is actively planning for every contingency. It has been an ongoing challenge to reach agreement in recent years, however an agreement has always been reached, and we expect that agreement will be reached again. "

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

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