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Teacher strike in Newton ends, students return to class on Monday

Newton teachers strike ends, students to return to school Monday
Newton teachers strike ends, students to return to school Monday 03:19

NEWTON - A deal has been reached to end the 15-day teachers strike in Newton. Students missed 11 days of school due to the strike, one of the longest in state history.

The Newton School Committee and the Newton Teachers Association reached a tentative agreement on a new four-year contract Friday night. Students will return to class on Monday, February 5 with a one hour late start.

The contract will require ratification from NTA members and a majority vote of the School Committee.  

"We are absolutely thrilled to get our students and our teachers back in the classroom," Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said.

Highlights of the agreement 

• Significantly increased salaries for all aides -with some increases totaling 50%
• Adjustments to salaries for increased cost of living
• Additional social workers at the elementary level
• Additional staff to reduce class sizes at the high school level
• Expanded parental leave
• Guaranteed student admittance for non-resident school system staff
• Agreed-upon procedures for educators on directed growth plans
• Adjustments to funding of insurance benefits and healthcare structure 

In a statement, the school committee said, "This contract reflects our values including respect for our educators. It reinforces and expands meaningful support for students; meaningfully increases compensation for all employees, particularly our building and classroom aides; maintains Newton as a leader in benefits; and provides important flexibility for our leaders to strengthen and innovate our system."

Speaking in front of hundreds of cheering teachers after the deal was announced, NTA member Ryan Normandin said the union fought "tooth and nail" for the schools students and educators deserve.

"Over these last two weeks, we have seen the power of working together to advocate for a better tomorrow for our students, our families, and our schools," Normandin said. "This moment will reverberate through Newton for years to come."  

The NTA has been fined more than $600,000 for the illegal strike. On Friday afternoon, a judge ordered that fines for the union would be doubled from $50,000 to $100,000 a day starting Monday if no agreement was reached.

Members of the NTA voted to go on strike on January 18. To make up some of the missed school days, the upcoming February vacation has been canceled. The strike also halted the winter sports season and after school activities.

"This strike has been painful for NPS families and the entire City of Newton," the school committee said. "We will all need some time to heal, and we ask for patience and leadership from all of the adults in the NPS community."

Mayor Fuller said the contract is sustainable for the Newton Public Schools and the city.

"There will be no layoffs," Fuller said. "The funding came as I outlined all along from our operating budget and the use of one-time funds in a judicious manner that doesn't create fiscal cliffs."

"I think it's a very competitive contract," Newton School Committee Chair Chris Brezski said. "Our educators should feel good about it. I think our district should feel good about it, that this is something that's going to allow us to provide what we need for our kids." 

On Thursday, Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey's administration got involved, demanding status updates and requesting a court order binding arbitration if a deal was not reached by Friday. 

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