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"Sacrifice that is needed," Andover schools closed as teachers strike for first time in 30 years

Andover schools closed as teachers go on strike for first time in 30 years
Andover schools closed as teachers go on strike for first time in 30 years 02:17

ANDOVER - For the first time in 30 years Andover school teachers are on strike, saying they didn't have a choice.

With songs, signs and chants of "we aren't going to take it," they walked the picket line Friday.

"My message is I want to be back in that building with my students. We want to settle a fair contract. I love teaching," said teacher Frank McCall.

The union is asking for raises for teachers and aides, protections for prep-time, paid family and medical leave and having a say in the curriculum that they teach.

"We work extremely hard and at the end of the day when we've met with the committee 27 times since January and don't make any headway with them. I feel really disrespected," said teacher Betsey Desfosse.

The school committee said their latest offer included a 13.75% pay raise for teacher aides over three years.

"The CERB ruled that the union violated state law and ordered AEA members to immediately cease and desist their unlawful work stoppage and return to school. We hope and expect the AEA will comply with the order and return to school on Monday," the Committee said in statement released on Friday.  

Committee members stood just feet from striking teachers on Friday morning, handing out breakfast and lunch boxes to students who didn't have school.

"Everybody is disrupted by it, but having food here is hopefully going to help them carry on with their day, and have some consistency in their day. And we're really hoping we can get this resolved soon," said school committee member Emily Dicesaro.

Andover schools will stay closed until the strike comes to an end, which leaves many parents having to arrange last minute child care. 

"This is a sacrifice that is needed. We are willing to deal the repercussions so that this can be solved as quickly as possible," said parent Elizbeth Vickers.

The negotiations are expected to continue Friday afternoon between teachers and the school committee.

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