'The Schools Should Be Open': Newton Teachers Strike Hits 11th Day

NEWTON, MA — The Newton Teachers Association said its proposal sent to the School Committee on Thursday was “its best yet” as hopes for progress toward the end of the teachers’ strike extended into the late-night hours.

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NTA negotiating team member and teacher Ryan Normandin said: “This proposal works within the purported financial restrictions of the School Committee.”

“This latest proposal puts us under $4 million apart from the School Committee’s latest proposal,” Normandin said at a Thursday night news conference. “That’s under the entire life of the (four-year) contract.

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“We should be done. The schools should be open. We are ready to move forward. And when we do, everyone is going to have to come together.”

The NTA called on Newton South Committee Chair Chris Brezksi and the School Committee to agree to its latest proposal, settle the contract and return to students and educators to “the schools that we deserve, the schools that we fought for, schools that are within our reach.

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“All they have to do is say: ‘Yes.'”

Brezski called earlier Thursday on Newton Teachers Association leadership to put the city’s current contract proposal to a vote of its membership as school was called off for the 11th straight day on Friday amid the state’s longest work stoppage in three decades.

Brezski said the School Committee and city had met all the NTA’s demands on parental leave, student mental health support and other key issues, with the only remaining gap being cost-of-living wage increases.

“Now it’s all about the money,” he said.

(More on Patch: Newton Teacher Struck At Education Center Strike Negotiations Site)

After getting emotional during a Wednesday night news conference, Brezski went on the offensive on Thursday, saying that while the cause of the strike was a “collective failure” but that now “the strike itself is not a collective failure.

“It is a unilateral decision and a willful action to close our schools while negotiations progress,” he said.

Teachers continued to rally outside the Newton Education Center throughout the day and night with leadership vowing not to return to the classrooms without what they consider to be a fair contract despite racking up more than $500,000 in fines with possible additional court penalties coming Friday for a strike that is illegal under Massachusetts state law.

“The fines for us are not going to impact whether we return to the classroom,” NTA teacher and negotiating team member Ryan Normandin said Wednesday night. “We are committed — as we have been from the beginning — to stay out as long as it takes to ensure that when we return our students and our educators have what they need to be safe, and be successful, both today and going forward for the city.”

All school buildings remain closed — and all school sports, arts and drama programs, after-school care and community education programs are canceled — amid the strike.

All missed school days will have to be made up this academic year before June 30.

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