This debrief includes an update on negotiations with the Newton Teachers Association as well as a debrief of the 10/21/2019 Newton School Committee meeting.
Many of you responded to our last newsletter asking for an update on our contract negotiations with the teacher’s union. We have been meeting regularly and more meetings are scheduled in the next few weeks. While the details are confidential until the terms of a new contract are ratified by both sides, we are able to share the following information:
Timeline: The current negotiation process began 15 months ago when the union and the School Committee negotiating teams came together to develop a new contract. The goal and the sincere hope was to settle a new contract before the current one expired in August 2019.
Unions: Newton Public Schools has 3 unions: The Newton Teachers’ Association, which includes approximately 2,000 members comprised of teachers, all school administrators (except principals and central administration), classroom and special education aides, and IT professionals. Unlike many of our peer districts, the NTA is a very large and diverse group which makes the negotiating process longer and more complex. The Custodial Association (approximately 90 members, all custodians) and the Secretaries Union (approximately 60 administrative professionals) are smaller and less complex.
Budget: The NPS budget is developed in partnership with the Superintendent, central administration and principals and approved by the School Committee. The budget allocation for NPS comes from the City.
Contract: When a contract expires, its terms remain in full effect until replaced by a successor contract. While negotiations are ongoing, all NTA employees continue to receive salaries, step increases (unless they are at top step), healthcare, longevity pay, and all other benefits, except cost of living adjustment. NTA members will receive the cost of living adjustment (COLA) once the contract is settled.
Complexity: Public school contracts address many issues beyond salaries, health insurance and other benefits, such as stipends for work outside the school day, parental leave, sick time, prep time in school, to name a few.
Hard work: The negotiating team and the union have been working hard and creatively to settle the contract. We have made progress, working through many of the 60+ items that have been identified as priorities, including an early agreement last winter to begin full day kindergarten this fall.
Like many of you, the members of the School Committee decided to live and serve in Newton because of its wonderful school system. We have enormous respect for our skilled and dedicated educators who come to school every day excited about working with our children and passionate about education. We look forward to continuing our work with the NTA and settling the contract soon.
10/21/19 School Committee Meeting:
The Preliminary Enrollment Report showed that overall, enrollment dropped slightly for the second year, though there is variation among individual schools.
The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) and School Connectedness surveys illustrated student reports of substance use, violence and safety, physical activity, and mental health. Materials included a 3-page summary, a full summary of results, Connectedness findings, and additional Connectedness summary graphs. Brief headlines: alcohol and tobacco use have declined, vaping has increased, concern about safety at school has increased; anxiety, depression, self-harm, and suicidality levels have not declined, and condom use has declined. The schools and city will continue to work collaboratively on these issues.
Other Updates and Second Readings
Second Reading, Discussion: NPS FY20 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The next major school building projects should be Franklin, Countryside, and Ward. The scope of work at Ward is to be determined, with community input.
On Monday, November 4th at 7:00pm, we will receive an update from the Equity Working Group and Families Organizing for Racial Justice (FORJ). In addition, the Irwin Blumer Book Awards will be made.
As always, we are very happy to answer any questions or discuss any concerns you may have. Please feel free to contact us via the email address below.We hope you found this summary useful. You can access all School Committee meeting documents via the NPS website (www.newton.k12.ma.us/schoolcommittee). Additionally, if you are interested in watching an SC meeting from home or a recorded meeting, you can obtain access via www.newtv.org. On the district Facebook page, you can find videos of past “Virtual Office Hours,” which are held once a month and provide the community with the opportunity to ask questions through the FB Live format.
The Newton School Committee