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  • Writer's pictureMike Zilles

NTA EBulletin: June 16, 2024

Dear Colleagues,

Heat! I know that is what is on many of your minds, particularly those of you who work in buildings where the air is not cooled. 

I'm keeping in touch with Anna Nolin about this issue. It's on her mind too. 

There is a new section in this EBulletin--"Know your Contract." This week, this section is primarily a reminder of things that have changed in the contract this year and will continue into next year, and things that will be new next year. This is not a comprehensive list, but rather a highlights list. 

Beginning next year, we will make this a regular section of the EBulletin, not only to present changes to our contract, but also to give explainers so members can know their rights and responsibilities by having a clear understanding of policies connected to the contract.

In solidarity,

Mike Zilles, President

Newton Teachers Association

Know your Contract!


Chris Walsh

This week, we use this section of the EBulletin as a reminder of provisions that will be new starting next September, and of provisions that have changed this year and will continue into next year. This is not a comprehensive list, including only "highlights" from our recent agreement. 

Beginning next year, we will make "Know your Contract" a regular section of the EBulletin, giving "explainers" of our contract provisions new, revised, and old. 

New Starting in September:

Contractually protected self-directed time:

  • New contract provision:  “During the first two (2) workdays of the school year, all employees covered by this agreement shall have six (6) hours set aside for self-directed preparation for the school year. Should the District require educators to attend convocation, such time shall not be considered self-directed preparation time.”

  • Everyone is also entitled to their duty free lunch on each of the first two days.

Increased minimum hours for full-time Category 1 Educational Support Professionals:

Full-time Category 1 aides at Elementary, Middle, and High School are now paid to work for 10 minutes each day after student dismissal time.

Increased Unit C Starting Salaries:

An additional half step is taken off the Unit C scale — new starting step for Unit C members hired to begin work next year is Step 2.

  • For a view of how the new contract impacts starting pay, mid-level pay, and top pay for Unit C staff, please see this spreadsheet.  Please note that this is a representation of the change in pay on each of these particular steps, not the change in pay for a particular employee.  For those employees not at the top step, they will also receive step increases each year on September 1.

New This Year and Continuing:

Additional Retirement Incentive:

  • Employees who give notice of retirement at least six (6) months prior to their last day of work and who work through the end of the teacher work year (or through June 30th for Unit E), will receive $500 in addition to the benefit of $500 for giving at least four (4) months notice of their retirement. Total benefit in these cases is $1,000.

  • The incentive payment of $500 for giving notice of retirement at lease four (4) months prior to the last day of work still exists separately for those not working through the end of the teacher work year (or June 30th for Unit E).

Increased Tuition Reimbursement:

  • The maximum amount of reimbursement available per individual seeking licensure is increased to $1,000, and for all other applicants to $750.

  • New for Unit E: Tuition reimbursement shall be allowed for non-graduate credit granting professional development when appropriate and with supervisory approval.

Evaluation - Directed Growth and Improvement Plans:  

  • Educators moving to either Directed Growth or Improvement Plans must be given a draft of the plan no later than the last school day in June of the year prior to the plan.

  • Educators must receive the final plan by September 20th.

Use of Sick Days for Family Illness:

Employees may use up to fourteen (14) of their personal sick days for a close family member’s or dear friend’s illness or injury. (increase of 3 days)

Unit A Substitute Stipend:

  • High School teachers who volunteer to substitute for a Unit A colleague receive a stipend of $60 per additional class period.

  • Middle School teachers who volunteer to substitute for a Unit A colleague receive a stipend of $40 per additional class period.

  • Teachers in their first year of employment in NPS shall not be asked to volunteer to substitute.

Unit E - Increase in Starting Pay:  

By September 1, 2024, one full step will have been taken off the bottom of the Unit E salary schedules.

Joint Labor Management Committees:

Elementary Day Working Group

Elizabeth Ross DelPorto and Ayesha Farag

One outcome of our recent contract negotiations was agreement to establish a number of working groups charged with exploring options and making recommendations to address identified challenges in several areas. Each of these Joint Labor Management Committees (JLMCs) will consist of equal numbers of members appointed by the NTA and management. As we begin these processes, you can expect that we will collaborate to regularly share updates on our work through both the NTA Bulletin and the Inside Voice district newsletter.

One of those JLMCs, the Elementary Day Working Group, held our first big group meeting this week (there had been several smaller meetings prior). Our agreement was to appoint representatives to the working group within 60 days of ratification (we were close!) and to make recommendations to the School Committee by June 2025.

The charge of the Elementary School Day Working Group is to conduct a comprehensive examination of the elementary school day and gather information to recommend changes that:

  • Improve the learning experience and outcomes for students

  • Offer clear and pragmatic scheduling guidance for the elementary day

  • Establish 220 minutes of prep time per week for all elementary teachers 

The members of the Elementary School Day Working Group appear below:

Current Members for the NTA: Chris Walsh, NTA Treasurer; Elizabeth Ross Del Porto, Angier; Lynn Penczar, Lincoln Eliot; Brenna Green, Cabot; Lindsey Mueller, Franklin; Jayme Ellis, Burr; Lisa Lacava, Mason Rice; Jackie Gilligan, Ward; Amanda Napolione, Countryside, 1 TBD

Current Members for NPS: Ayesha Farag, Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education; Lauren Harrison, ELL; Maura Tynes, Student Services; Jen Ortega, Teaching and Learning; Shannon Komow, Teaching and Learning; MTSS Director, Teaching and Learning; Diana Guzzi, Principal; Diana Beck, Principal; Jesse Krotick, Student Services; 1 TBD [Note-Unit B Members can serve as members for either the NTA or NPS Administration.]

We began our meeting with introductions, an overview of the context for our work and the charge of the working group. Additionally,  we completed two useful and instructive exercises.

We first worked with small groups to reflect upon and share in response to the following prompts:

  • What is working well about the elementary day? 

  • What are the challenges? 

  • What would you change?

The second was a thought exercise asking us to imagine a year has passed and we collectively agree that our work has been positive and productive. Using a modified “futuring” protocol,  we asked ourselves a number of questions to inform the development of our group working agreements and processes for the work ahead: 

  • What observations did you make that contributed to our successful teamwork? 

  • What did we learn from our successes and challenges?

  • How did the team manage challenges and obstacles?

  • What actions did the team make that supported a positive and productive team dynamic?

  • What practices or processes helped to inform our decision making?

  • How do team members describe our team's culture and approach?

The group will resume work in September. There is much work to be done, and our group is excited to begin!

Save the Dates!

MTA Events This Year

Summer Conference 2024 from July 28-31 in Amherst: Save the date now for 'summer camp for adults'- a wide array of professional workshops that earn you PDPs. Stay in on-campus apartments and eat in the award winning dining hall, with evening social events. Sign-Ups are now open!  





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