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Newton schools closed as teachers vote to strike Friday

Newton schools closed as teachers vote to go on strike
Newton schools closed as teachers vote to go on strike 02:44

NEWTON - Public school teachers in Newton have announced they will go on strike Friday morning. The president of the Newton Teachers Association said 98% of members approved the strike. 

Classes are canceled in Newton on Friday, and all school buildings will be closed.   

Newton teachers rallied in front of City Hall Thursday night. The union has been negotiating with school committee leaders for more than a year without a new contract.

Newton teachers
The Newton Teachers Association announced they are going on strike CBS Boston

Members say they want competitive pay raises, a living wage for teaching assistants, and more social workers and support staff to be hired.

The union says the city has enough resources to meet these demands. Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller has blamed tax revenue caps and says residents would need to vote on any plan to raise them.

Union president Mike Zilles says the strike speaks volumes. "The membership of the Newton Teachers Association is standing up for the citizens, the students, and the educators of Newton, and we are saying, Mayor Fuller enough is enough," Zilles said.  

School and city leaders say the decision to strike is disruptive and disappointing. "The NTA should not be putting kids in the middle," Mayor Fuller said. 

The Newton School Committee called on the union to end the strike. 

"We have to think about sustaining this organization, being able to provide what we need for our kids and still putting forth a competitive offer. We believe we have put forth a competitive offer," said Newton School Committee President Chris Brezski.

The mayor says the city has given necessary funding for a fair contract and that more money for schools will have to come from the voters. "We've had some one-time funds and we were so grateful we have. We've put them to work already and prioritized the Newton Public Schools. There's not piles of cash just waiting there to be deployed," Mayor Fuller said.  

All school-related events and activities will be postponed until after the strike. 

"I want to go back to school," 3rd grader Fiona said. She was at the rally to support her mom, who's a teacher. "My mom's a teacher and I want my friends and other people in the school to have the resources they need."

The days that are missed due to the strike will be made up before the end of the school year. 

It is illegal for teachers to strike in Massachusetts and the union could face fines. Both sides are scheduled to meet again for mediation on Friday.

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