by Cate Waters
About 500 teachers, in yellow shirts, marched from North to the Ed Center last Monday at 6:30 p.m. They went to see if the School Committee would vote, either for or against, what the superintendent submits a teacher budget. The committee voted for the budget and now teacher’s contracts can no longer include room for teacher raises.
According to history teacher John Fitzgerald, teachers disagree with the budget because “the budget submitted for next year does not include any extra money for teacher raises,” he said.
“We opposed the School Committee vote on the budget because it did not make competitive salaries a clear priority. We hope the presence of over 350 NTA members at the School Committee meeting made it clear that negotiating fair contracts must come to the top of the School Committee’s agenda,” said Michael Zilles, President of the Newton Teachers Association.
Every three years the Newton Teachers Association (NTA) receives a new contract, which determines teachers’ pay, rules and regulations, and leaves of absence.
The NTA’s most recent contract ended at the end of last year. As of now, teachers are currently working without a contract because of the disagreements over pay equity.
The teachers union and the School Committee have negotiating teams that are trying to create the new contract.
“From the union’s perspective, it’s not going well. We feel that our demands were reasonable, and we feel that the School Committee has not been listening to us,” said Fitzgerald.
The negotiations for the previous contract, which ended in 2014, took place during the economic downturn in 2008.
In the past contact “the teachers gave up some things, but the last contract was negotiated in the context of a really severe economic crisis. We conceded things, recognizing things were hard,” said Fitzgerald.
According to NTA’s evaluation of teachers pay, educator’s salaries have fallen behind. Teachers in Newton used to make comparable or higher incomes, than that of neighboring towns.