BOSTON - More than 1,000 teachers, parents and school staff rallied outside of the Boston Public Schools headquarters and into a School Committee meeting on Wednesday to demand a new contract.
The Boston Teachers Union is pushing for a new contract that would boost funding for inclusion, social and emotional wellness and homelessness supports. The rally was being held outside Bruce Bolling Municipal Building in Roxbury.
"If funding is cut they won't receive the supports they need and they don’t have as many supports as they need now," said teacher Natalya Betzig.
The union says about 7,500 of its member educators have been working without a contract since August 2018. Negotiations are ongoing.
"We’re not asking for anything irrational, we’re asking for nurses, clean water, counselors," said teacher Ada Sepulveda.
One of the biggest issues they're fighting for is more nurses.
Not all Boston Public Schools have a full-time nurse.
"It’s not like kids can be sick on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays and they’re not allowed to get sick on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It doesn’t work that way, kids get sick every day," Sepulveda said.
"That means that if you have diabetes or need daily medications that you can’t access, certain schools or if you get hurt when the nurse isn’t there, we have to call an ambulance," said Boston Teachers Union President Jessica Tang,
Boston Public Schools released a statement saying in part: "As a result of important and informative community conversations during this budget process, BPS is proud to announce we are adding more than $3 million in additional funds to support our schools in FY20."
As for the teacher contracts, the school district said: "We are optimistic that we will be able to reach a resolution that best serves all of our students.”
School officials said the district has 131 nurses, and that's up by 10 nurses since last year. They said they'll continue to work on ways to improve health and wellness services for students.
Tang said a new contract with added supports for students and staff is critical.
"Those rap around supports and the social emotional health is really important and critical to the success of our students and that’s very much what we’re fighting for," Tang said.
About 55,000 students attend Boston public schools.
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