The Newton teacher strike is continuing into another school week.
As fines for the union mount and parents grow desperate, the Newton Teachers Association pitched a memorandum of understanding Sunday night that they described as an effort to reopen schools for Monday. The School Committee opted not to sign it.
Negotiations began at 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning, amounting to a total of 110 hours at the bargaining table since the strike started, the school district wrote.
The strike began on Jan. 19 after 98% of the NTA voted to strike, meaning Newton Public School’s approximately 12,000 students are out of school.
The union’s MOU on Sunday night included measures like reducing the cost of living adjustments originally proposed and allowing for an increase in class size caps.
The School Committee responded to the proposal around 9 p.m., with a statement that the NTA said “feels like a lecture, not a proposal that will further us along.”
“The committee has offered repeatedly to release the NTA’s core bargaining team members from work so they can engage in continued mediation while teachers and support staff return to work,” NPS’s response said in part. “The Committee has increased its wage proposals, negotiated parental leave, increased hours for paraprofessionals, and communicated a shared commitment to add social workers.”
The School Committee responded to each of the union’s proposals in Sunday night’s MOU. They called the lowered COLA proposal “unaffordable, unsustainable and ill advised” and denied the union’s request for mandated social workers.
“NPS has consistently rejected the NTA proposal on mandating staffing levels for social workers,” they wrote. “However, the Superintendent has publicly committed to adding more social workers at the elementary level as part of the FY25 budget process.”
They said NTA’s most recent package is about $25 million more expensive than the proposal presented Sunday afternoon.
The union has already been fined $375,000 as they continue their strike, which is illegal under state law. Daily fines of $50,000 were paused by a judge on Friday but will resume after 8 p.m. on Monday if the strike continues, WBUR reported.
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