Teachers in Newton vote to go on strike after contract deal isn’t reached

Roughly 98% of the Newton Teachers Association voted to go on strike after a contract deal wasn’t reached Thursday, according to the teachers union.

“This is a sad day, a strike compounds the stress, disruption, and anxiety,” said Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller.

The teacher’s contract expired at the end of August and the two sides have been negotiating a three-year contract.

“Superintendent Nolin and School Committee Chair Brezki have made it clear to the community that the funds I have committed to NPS are sufficient to settle a highly competitive contract with the teachers and to address large class sizes in the high schools and additional staff in the elementary schools,” said Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller.

The city is offering newer teachers to make 8% more next year and older, more compensated teachers will make 6% more next year. The latter affects about half of the city’s current teaching staff.

Teachers who are at the top of the salary scale would receive a 2.75% increase in the first and second years and a 3.25% increase in the third year of the contract.

Mayor Fuller and the union say that the offer is still on the table as of Thursday evening.

The Newton Teachers Association and their supporters held a large rally Thursday morning outside of City Hall. They called for a cost-of-living pay increase to more adequately compare to peers in comparable districts. In addition to pay the other concerns brought by the union include large class sizes in the high school and more staff in the elementary schools.

The teachers’ current contracts have step increases each year (annual bumps and raises with each year of experience). The union claims the mayor’s offer lumps those annual bumps in, which they say makes the offer less valuable than it appears.

In an open letter to Superintendent Nolin and School Committee Chair Brezki on Wednesday, Newton Teachers Association President Mike Zilles said the two sides can’t even agree on the facts.

“The real issue is not just that we don’t agree on the same facts,” he said. “The real issue is that you continue to look for a cheap contract from us in order to solve your primary problem: Mayor Fuller has chronically underfunded the schools.”

There will be no school for students in Newton on Friday.

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

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