Reminder: Nov. Variety Shows are Cancelled

Unfortunately, we will be canceling the Variety Shows scheduled for November 6 and 13 and rescheduling them for later in the year, likely in March 2020. Please keep your eyes open for future communication. We will share the new Variety Show dates as soon as we have them. 

The postponement is due to the ongoing teacher contract negotiations. Until an agreement is reached, teachers will not be serving on and participating in voluntary committees and activities, such as Mr. Mignone’s help with the Variety Shows. And while we have many talented and skilled parents, we rely on Mr. Mignone to make this run successfully. 

The PTO remains in full support of our teachers and our entire Zervas school staff. We are appreciative of all the hard work they do every day and we will continue to support them as we have always done.

Parents have been asking about these contract negotiations and we want to provide you with a viewpoint from both sides. Following, please find an update from both our Zervas Teacher Union Representatives and the School Committee.

FROM OUR ZERVAS TEACHER UNION REPS
The teachers in Newton are currently working without a contract. Zervas families have undoubtedly noticed staff members wearing red t-shirts every Tuesday. In solidarity with other educators in the district, we will begin taking some other actions to bring further attention to the need for a prompt settlement to negotiations. We certainly hoped that an agreement would have been reached without the need for an escalation in our actions. The next step is that teachers will stop serving on and participating in voluntary committees. We remain optimistic that we will settle on a fair contract soon. Please know how much we appreciate your support as we continue negotiating a reasonable contract. If you have any questions, please let us know.
Sincerely,
Your Zervas Representatives to the Newton Teachers Association
Rebecca Kinney, Rachael Simkins, Michael Stern

FROM THE SCHOOL COMMITTEE
Update on Contract Negotiations: 
Many of you are wondering why we have not updated you on contract negotiations with the teacher’s union.  The details of contract negotiations are confidential until the terms of the 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 administration 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 NTA (approximately 2,000 members including teachers, all school administrators except Principals central administration, classroom and special education aids, and IT professionals). Unlike many of our peer districts, the NTA is a very large and diverse group, making contract negotiations more complex as we are negotiating with four distinct groups within one contract. The Custodial Association (approximately 90 members, all custodians) and the Secretaries Union (approximately 60 administrative professionals) are smaller less complex. 
  • Budget: The NPS budget is overseen and approved by the School Committee in partnership with the Superintendent, central administration and Principals.  The allocation for the schools comes from the City. 
  • Contract: When a contract expires, its terms remain in full effect until replaced by a successor contract. Currently ALL NTA employees receive salaries, step increases (unless they are at top step), healthcare, longevity pay, and all other benefits except cost of living adjustment.  Teachers will receive cost of living adjustment (COLA) increase once the contract is settled.
  • Complexity: Public school contracts address many issues beyond salaries and 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 with our teachers. We have made significant 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.   While we cannot get in to specifics, the Committee believes we have a fair and comprehensive offer on the table and we hope to come to a mutually agreeable resolution soon.  

The members of the School Committee decided to live and serve in Newton because of its wonderful school system.  Our skilled and dedicated educators come to school every day excited about working with our children and passionate about education.  We look forward to settling the contract soon.

As always, please feel free as always to contact us.

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