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Newton teachers march to settle contract

NPS teachers and faculty march from the North parking lot to the Ed Center Monday, April 1. (Photo by Ian Dickerman)

Newton teachers marched to the Education Center to advocate for a settlement to their contract Monday, April 1.

The march, organized by the Newton Teachers Association (NTA), started from the Walnut Street Parking Lot and ended at the Education Center, where a School Committee meeting was being held.

After marching, several teachers attended the meeting to protest the vote on superintendent David Fleishman’s budget proposal for next year. According to South history teacher and chair of the NTA’s negotiation team Jamie Rinaldi, the NTA wants the School Committee to finalize the contract before they vote on the budget.

“We’ve been bargaining with the School Committee for close to a year to win a fair contract, one that we believe is both necessary and just based on the incredible worth that our members do on a daily basis in those schools,” Rinaldi said.

“We’ve been frustrated by the pace of bargaining, and we’ve been frustrated by some of the proposals the School Committee has put on the table,” he added.

President of the NTA Michael Ziles said the School Committee has not settled a three-year contract before the expiration of the previous contract “in living memory.”  The teachers’ association usually seeks to finalize a new contract before the previous contract expires to secure salaries and working conditions for the following school year.

“We’re trying to send a message that that’s not ‘business as usual.’” Ziles said. “You have to come to the negotiating table ready to negotiate, and they haven’t.”

According to Ruth Goldman, the chair of the School Committee, the contract will most likely not be settled by the end of the year.

“It’s important to remember that a negotiation happens between two parties,” Goldman said. “We’ve put out some offers that we think are reasonable, the teachers clearly think their offers are reasonable, but we have to come to an agreement about the whole package, and we haven’t gotten there yet.”

According to Spanish teacher Christopher Alberg, the School Committee often fails to finalize contracts before the school year begins, leaving teachers with no agreement in the following school year.

“The Newton School Committee has a history in negotiations with the teachers of running the clock out until the end of the summer, having us start a new school year with no contracts, and then and only then do they come to the negotiating table, after the contracts already expired and after we’re effectively working for nothing,” Alberg said.

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