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  • Writer's pictureMike Zilles

NTA EBulletin January 29, 2023

Click on the image above to access NTA resources on the contract campaign, bargaining, and the override.

In this issue:

At the Negotiations Table: Session 4 by Elizabeth Ross Del Porto and Mike Zilles

Your NTA Negotiations Team met again last week with School Committee and NPS representatives. Generally, the trajectory of negotiations involves proposals and counter proposals, acceptances, rejections, and trade-offs. There will be hard won successes and moments when we regretfully have to concede points we had hoped to win. This give and take is a staple of the bargaining journey. This week we felt, for the first time, like we were mutually took the first steps of that journey--like we were really bargaining. As you know, negotiations had a rocky start. On Wednesday there was a noticeable shift--an improved tone, and a collaborative atmosphere--that had not been there before. For instance, we felt heard when we described that, far from teaching returning to normal this year after the pandemic, the challenges posed by the social-emotional needs and behavioral challenges of our students have, if anything, grown. The School Committee and NPS administration came with responses to several of our prior proposals. And while they were not yet prepared to respond to most of our major financial proposals, such as COLA and returning step increases to September, there WAS an acknowledgement that, as they wrestle with their own budget calculations, the costs of our contract IS part of their deliberations. Moreover, they have said the same thing publicly. At the budget presentation at Monday's School Committee meeting, Kathy Smith and Liam Hurley said that there are funds built into their preliminary budget to account for the costs of a new contract. This is a major shift from our sense before that they would be scrambling to cobble budgetary leftovers together to offer extremely low COLAs. Here are some highlights from the meeting:

  • We have reached agreement to increase the pay for entry level Unit E members.

  • We are close to an agreement to increase the number of personal sick days that members can use for illnesses of family members or dear friends - currently we can use up to eleven sick days per year.

  • We have reached agreement to increase the maximum amount of tuition reimbursement individuals may receive (but still have not agreed about how much will be allocated to the overall pool of funds for reimbursement).

  • We are awaiting a more comprehensive School Committee and NPS administration retirement incentive proposal in response to our proposal to increase retirement sick days buy-back.

Though there is a long way to go to reach a full agreement, these are important first steps. One key example: the willingness to increase the number of sick days that can be used to care for family members. By agreeing to increase this allocation, the district acknowledges that, just as we care, day in, day out, for the children of Newton, we too have our own family members to care for, and need district support to do this. Different tone; different atmosphere. There are several dates on the calendar for continued negotiations. We are cautiously optimistic and look forward to getting back into it. The override looms large over our discussion. There are reasons, financial and political, for why the School Committee must wait until the vote is over to put forward a full financial proposal. Winning the override will jumpstart the process of addressing the chronic underfunding of the schools. The NTA is firmly and staunchly in support of this override. And we are firmly and staunchly in support of sustained city support for the schools in the years after the override. We must end yearly budget gaps, budget freezes, budget cuts, and.....protracted contract negotiations!

Newton Override Campaign How you can help support the override: - Follow "Vote Yes for Newton" on both Instagram and Facebook so you can share info and testimonials with your network. - Share a testimonial, along with a photo of yourself, as to why you support the override as an educator. - Attend the Parent / Educator Collaborative Community Conversation on the override this Thursday, 2/2 at 7:30pm to share your thoughts with city councilors. Zoom link here. - Submit a Letter to the Editor to Fig City News showing your support. Note submission guidelines and send letters (maximum of 300 words) to - Sign up for a lawn sign if you live in Newton - Volunteer in other ways to support the override

NTA Contract Campaign The first round of T-shirt distribution is nearly complete. T-shirts tended to run small, and we ran out of some of the larger sizes. We have received a second shipment, and will disperse additional shirts early this coming week. If you find that your t-shirt doesn't fit and you need a different size, please let your building rep know asap--preferably Monday. We want you to be comfortable in the shirt you wear, so make sure you have the shirt you need. AND we need everyone --everyone--wearing a shirt this week: If you work in the Preschool, an elementary school, or a middle school, then Wear it Wednesday! If you work in one of the high schools, then wear yours on T-Shirt Tuesday! We have scheduled our first meeting of the full Contract Action Team. We look forward to meeting with members of the Contract Action Team as they join our RA this Wednesday at 4:15 in the NTA office!

Parent Educator Collaborative

On Thursday, February 2nd at 7:30 P.M, the Parent Educator Collaborative will host a panel of teachers, representatives from the "Vote Yes" Campaign, multiple city councilors, and parents and supporters of the schools for a community conversation about the March override. This meeting will take place on Zoom. There will be a chance for discussion and Q&A so everyone can learn from each other during this session.

Topic: PEC Community Conversation Time: Feb 2, 2023 07:30 PM Join Zoom Meeting Meeting ID: 828 8958 9537 Educator panelists will give a snapshot of their work this year, and how their students’ experiences have been impacted by last year’s budget cuts. It is important for all of us to understand how our students will be affected by the results of the override vote.

Substitute Hiring Incentives 2022-2023

The NTA and the NPS have agreed to hiring incentives for substitutes for the 2022-2023 school year. These incentives are:

  • A higher pay rate for retirees for the remainder of this school year:

    • "The parties agree that for the remainder of the 2022-2023 SY, the daily rate for any retired Massachusetts public school teacher will be $150.00, this includes Unit A, Unit B, Unit C, and Unit E."

  • A hiring bonus for Unit D members hired this school year, both those already hired, and those to be hired:

    • "The parties agree that for 2022-2023 SY, newly hired Unit D members will be given a $500 hiring incentive, prorated to their FTE. This incentive will be paid in two (2) equal installments: one payment upon hire and one payment upon the completion of the 2022- 2023 school year. Unit D employees that were newly hired at any time during the 2022-2023 school year will receive this bonus retroactively and or proactively."

In addition to the provisions in this MOA, under certain circumstances, NPS is allowing building administrators to hire additional ISS staff beyond the ratios established in September. If you are a retired educator, or know a retired educator looking for part time work, please consider working as an ISS substitute in the Newton Public Schools. Chris Walsh and I would like to thank Kathy Smith for working with us to address the shortage of substitute coverage.

MTA Winter Workshops for PDPs The MTA invites you to register for its 2023 Winter PDP Programs at 4 pm on Tuesday, December 20th! Learn with the MTA and Earn PDPs to use toward your license recertification! Choose from seven different online courses where you can earn 15 PDPs towards either English as a Second Language/Sheltered English Immersion or Special Education requirements for renewing your professional license. All courses are FREE to MTA members. Space is extremely limited for these courses to ensure an enjoyable and effective learning experience for participants. Registration will open on December 21st at 4 PM. Set a reminder now for your best chance at securing a seat in the program of your choice! Winter PDP Workshops Online Asynchronous Courses:

  • Fine-Tuning Phonics Instruction for Students with Dyslexia (K-5) 1/21 - 3/4

  • Teaching with the New Dyslexia Guidelines 1/30 - 3/13

  • Universal Design for Learning: Reaching All Students 2/1 - 3/15

Online Synchronous Courses: Zoom Meetings

  • Social Emotional Learning: Using SEL to Inspire Success In All Students. 2/21 & 2/23 (9am-3pm)

  • Authentic Family Engagement in Literacy 1/28 & 2/11 (9am-12pm)

  • Collaborative Model for Multilingual Learners with, or Suspected of having, a Disability 2/8 & 3/1 (4-7pm)

  • Educational Kaleidoscopes: Inclusive Strategies for Multi-lingual Learners 2/2 & 2/16 (4-7pm)

For more information, visit:

MTA New Member Trainings CREDIT COUNSELING AND LOAN FORGIVENESS: New members often have student debt. This up to 75-minute training provides guidance on how to handle debt while qualifying for loan forgiveness. Ongoing webinar link from MTA Benefits: webinars PROFESSIONAL TEACHER STATUS (PTS): 45-minute training on how teachers acquire PTS, and what their rights are before they get PTS. ESPs: RIGHTS ON THE JOB: This is a 30-45 minute training on the rights of ESPs both before and after they may pass a probationary period. It covers anti-discrimination laws, union rights, contractual rights, the evaluation process, and whistle-blower protections. CERTIFICATION/LICENSURE: 90-minute training explaining the sometimes labyrinthian process of getting a teaching license in Massachusetts. Provisional and Initial License Training Thursday, January 12, 4:00 PM via Zoom, summary and registration here: Acquiring and Renewing Your Professional License Thursday, January 26, 4:00 PM via Zoom, summary and registration here: PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: The MTA sponsors a few all-day sessions of Professional Development such as the Summer Conference in August, Winter Union Skills on February 4 and the Early Career Educator Conference on March 4th - save the date found here.



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