Newton teachers remain on strike Monday after educators, city unable to agree on package proposal

NEWTON, Mass. — Newton teachers will be picketing once again on Monday morning after the union and school committee could not agree to terms on a new contract Sunday night.

After a day of negotiating, the Newton School Committee told families Sunday evening there would be no school the following day.

Monday will be the seventh day of school students have had to miss due to the strike.

Earlier Sunday, the Newton Teachers Association said they offered a new cost of living adjustment (COLA) package proposal to the school committee.

“We are fighting for supports for [the students], for mental health supports. We’re fighting for them to have properly staffed classrooms, so the kids are safe,” said Ryan Normandin, a math and science teacher and a member of the union. “[The school committee] went through our package, and they accepted every conciliatory – everything we were giving up – and they plastered ‘reject’ on everything else.”

According to the school committee, the plan was not viable.

“The NTA’s revised proposal showed progress but was neither affordable nor sustainable,” the school committee said in a statement. “Accepting it wholesale would have required a reduction in force of more than 70 valued educators and support staff throughout the life of the contract.”

The school committee presented a counterproposal at 3:15 p.m. that would have included increases to COLA, agreement on parental leave, wage increases to paraprofessionals, a commitment by the superintendent to increase the number of social workers across the district, and a revised transition to offset increases to health insurance costs.

The school committee says the NTA presented the COLA proposal in a “take it or leave it manner,” before walking away from the table. The NTA pushed back on that notion they weren’t bargaining in good faith.

“The NTA did not walk away from bargaining. We received no clarifying questions from the school committee. Instead, they gave us a counter-proposal, in essence rejecting ours,” an NTA spokesperson said.

“The funding is there, this is a manufactured political crisis created by the Mayor, not a fiscal crisis,” the NTA said in an early Sunday afternoon press conference.

Mayor Ruthanne Fuller told Boston 25 News directing any more city dollars toward the district would come at the expense of public safety and other city departments.

“We are unwilling to lay off police officers, firefighters and other municipal employees to pay for a contract that we cannot afford,” Fuller said. “I have always prioritized the budget of Newton Public Schools. When I craft the budget, the department that gets the biggest increase is Newton Public Schools.”

NTA President Mike Zilles said the school committee and the mayor are more committed to defeating the union than prioritizing school.

“They don’t care when the kids go back. They care about getting a cheap contract from us,” Zilles said. “Their interest isn’t in a contract, it isn’t in their students; it’s in winning.”

Because teacher strikes are illegal in the Bay State, the NTA has racked up $375,000 total in fines thus far.

Fines were set to resume at $50,000 if the two sides were not able to reach a deal by 8:00 p.m. Sunday.

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

Download the FREE Boston 25 News app for breaking news alerts.

Follow Boston 25 News on Facebook and Twitter. | Watch Boston 25 News NOW