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  • Writer's pictureMike Zilles

NTA EBulletin April 9, 2023



In this issue:

At the Negotiations Table: Session 9

by Elizabeth Ross Del Porto, Chris Walsh, Mike Zilles


Your Negotiations Team met on April 4 with representatives of NPS and the School Committee. We have to begin by thanking once again everyone who came to Line the Halls. We are sending a clear message - NTA members are activated, motivated, and united in the desire for a fair contract! NTA members are engaged! NTA members SHOW UP!


The overall tone of negotiations was quite businesslike. We discussed several of each side’s proposals, all of which are important, but the item we’ve been waiting for has been their counter proposal on COLAs, so in this update, we will focus on that. Remember, your STEP increase is the raise that recognizes your continuously developing expertise. The COLA percentage increase adjusts your base salary to compensate for inflation. To put the numbers in some perspective, in 2023, retirees on Social Security received COLA increases of 8.7% to their pensions.


To review, back in November, we made our COLA proposal:


FY2024: 7.75% (to account for losses in earning power due to inflation)

FY 2025: 4.5%

FY 2026: 4.5%


This week, the school committee counter proposal had a differential between employees still stepping up the scale and employees at the top of the salary scale:

​COLA for Stepping Employees

COLA for Employees at the top of the scale

FY2024: 1.5%

FY2024: 1.7%

FY2025: 1.6%

FY2025: 1.8%

FY2026: 1.7%

FY2026: 1.9%

These COLA increases would all be awarded in September, with no September/March split.


We don’t need to tell you that these increases are not adequate, nor remind you how much your paycheck has been pinched by rising inflation, nor declare that educators, in Mayor Fuller’s words, are the “the backbone of our schools.” (March 23, 2023, Newton Mayor’s Update, "water meters"). You know all of this.


We don’t even need to tell you that we cannot accept numbers like these when districts all around us are settling contracts for 3% per year and up. You know this too.


But–this was the school committee’s initial offer, contained no splits, and it provided us with the opportunity to counter propose, which puts the ball back into the school committee’s court. The real test of their willingness to bargain realistically will be their response to our counter proposal.


We tied our counter proposal, which also has a differential between stepping employees and employees at the top, to the school committee agreeing to move step increases from December 1 back to September 1.


Our counter proposal was:

​COLA for Stepping Employees

COLA for Employees at the top of the scale

FY2024: 5.8%

FY2024: 6%

FY2025: 3.8%

FY2025: 5%

FY2026: 3.8%

FY2026: 4%

AND Step increases move to September 1


So, even though we are quite a ways apart as of right now, there is movement. We await the school committee’s reply on April 26.


What’s our next steps? To negotiate most effectively, your NTA Negotiations Team needs your continued support. To this end, Contract Action Teams in each building have two asks right now:


1. Sign up to Line the Halls on 4/26.


2. Come to the General Membership Meeting on 4/27, 7:30pm on Zoom. Current members can click here to preregister. (Please, only preregister if you are currently employed by NPS and are a member.)


At the meeting, we will be discussing two critical questions:

  • What do we need to do to get a contract by June 30?

  • What do we need to do if we don’t?

The School Committee must understand that no longer will we work on and on into the next school year with no contract. It’s time to change that practice.


The Kindergarten Funding Problem

by Chris Walsh

In the fall of 2018, the district announced the implementation of full day kindergarten for the 2019-2020 school year. This initiative was able to move forward as a result an agreement with the NTA and Mayor Fuller’s pledge to add funding to the NPS budget. The Unit A Memorandum of Agreement (page 20) between NPS and NTA requires that each kindergarten classroom be staffed with a full time teaching assistant. Now, just four years later, the district is cutting kindergarten teaching assistants by more than one--half in breach of the contract. What happened? The short answer is that the funding added to the Fiscal Year 2020 budget wasn’t actually enough to cover the cost of the program..... Click here to find out how that happened......

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