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Agreement reached to end teachers strike in Andover

Andover teachers ratify new contract, schools to reopen after strike
Andover teachers ratify new contract, schools to reopen after strike 02:54

ANDOVER – An agreement has been reached to end the teachers strike in Andover. Students and staff will return to school on Wednesday after missing three days of class. 

"The AEA is ecstatic to announce that we have come to an agreement and the strike is OVER! All educators and students will return to work tomorrow," the union said. 

According to the school committee, the tentative agreement boosts contractual increases for teachers by 15.5% and for instructional assistants by 34% over four years.

"We are pleased that students can get back into the classroom tomorrow morning to continue learning," said Tracey Spruce, Chair of the Andover School Committee. "With this deal, the administration gained important tools to continue strengthening the instructional practices that we know students need to belong, strive, and thrive." 

In addition to the salary increases, AEA members will receive eight weeks of fully paid parental leave and the option to use an additional four weeks of accrued sick time. The agreement also increased elementary teacher planning time and extended recess time for students.

"We are incredibly happy to be returning to school tomorrow," said Andover High School teacher Matt Bach. "What the community has showed us is that we have done the right thing standing up for the public schools that the community, the educators, and the students deserve in Andover."

Marissa Reese is an instructional aide at Bancroft Elementary, and she is scheduled to give birth to twins in a matter of days. Now, she will do so without having to take unpaid time off.

"I was very worried. My leave is supposed to start tomorrow. So, this is really critical timing for me," Reese said. "This is huge for me and my family."

The school committee said it must now consider cuts to programs, services, and staff. The school committee said the reductions were communicated and acknowledged by the union during negotiations.   

School committee members refused to answer questions about what any cuts would look like as they left and turned down the chance to stand alongside teachers Tuesday evening.

"I invited the chair of the school committee to do that this morning, but we would rather not talk about the school committee this is about the educators," Bach said.   

The AEA voted to go on strike last Thursday. Schools were closed on Friday, Monday and Tuesday. There are about 5,600 Andover Public Schools students.

On Monday, Salem Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Karp set an initial fine of $50,000 for the Andover Education Association. The fine, which was scheduled to increase $10,000 each additional day, was due to the union violating a court order to end the strike.

It is against the law in Massachusetts for teachers to go on strike.

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