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  • Writer's pictureMike Zilles

NTA EBulletin June 9, 2022

In this issue:

March for Our Lives

March for our Lives has organized a second nationwide coordinated march on Saturday, June 11 to push back against gun violence. You can find out how to participate in Boston by clicking here.

General Membership Meeting

Please mark your calendars for the NTA General Membership Meeting: Wednesday, June 22, 5:00-6:00 p.m. via Zoom. Registration information to follow. Tentative agenda: Friends of Education Awards presentation; Committee Reports, President’s Report.

Budget Cuts and Next Year's Contract:

In spite of the efforts of many, it appears that Mayor Fuller has dug in her heels and refuses to increase funding to the Newton Public Schools for this coming school year. When I say "efforts of many," I mean:

  • our myriad emails, phone calls, social media postings, and public comments at School Committee meetings;

  • the same from a very supportive parent community;

  • our march on city hall;

  • the signs we posted in our classroom windows;

  • ongoing and favorable coverage in the press;

  • the intense lobbying efforts of our Parent Educator Collaborative;

  • City Council's vote to reject the Mayor Fuller's city budget.

In spite of all these efforts, and more, there remains a budget gap, and the schools must still make cuts. This battle is not over; it is "to be continued." We know, next year, a contract year, we are going to hear, over and over, in negotiations, and among many in the community, a very simple, and very false, narrative: "We have no money." Know this going forward:

  • There is money, and plenty of it. Mayor Fuller has chosen, as she puts it, to "invest in our city," rather than use federal funding responsibly: to pay for COVID expenses, and to fill budget gaps caused by loss of revenue.

  • The schools do not need more "one time funding," which disappears the following year. They need steady and adequate allocations each and every year. Neither the pandemic, nor the costs associated with it, are the root cause of the current shortfall in the schools' budget. Mayor Fuller has systematically underfunded the schools' operating budget for the past four years. Had the mayor simply funded the schools in accordance with historical precedent, the Newton Public Schools would not be cutting their budget; they could improve programming, repair buildings in a more timely fashion, and negotiate in good faith.

Instead, next year, we will likely hear that this year's cuts were a consequence of the last, imprudent contract the School Committee bargained. We will hear that the schools could not afford what they "gave" us last time, and that they certainly cannot afford similar or or more generous contracts going forward. Yet even as Mayor Fuller brags about her frugality on the "municipal side," she has agreed to contracts with almost all municipal employee unions--fire, police, public works, city clerks--and those contracts have awarded--'awarded', not 'given'--almost all city employees 3% cost of living expenses every year for anywhere from three to five years! And I will add: deservingly so! (Of note: the nurses, who work in the schools but are employed by and negotiate with the city, were 'given' much less. They too deserve better, especially given their tremendous sacrifices over these past two years!) Apparently, this mayor believes that contracts "awarded" on the "municipal" side are the benchmark of frugality, but similar contracts "given" on the school side are exemplars of profligacy. What does what I just said amount to? What you already know: Mayor Fuller does not value our schools, those who work in them, nor the students. Mayor Fuller, you have made your values clear. The good thing is that we have seen an outpouring of support for us and the schools, from the citizens and many of the political leaders in Newton. To the School Committee we say: Please take notice. You need to bargain hard with this mayor, not us. Our members would like nothing more than for us--the NTA and the School Committee--to come to an agreement without the long drawn out and exhausting campaigns that ALWAYS seem to be necessary for us to win fair contracts. Enough of that! But if there is to be a fight, then you must join with us to fight for the funding our schools and our students deserve!

Early Retirement Incentive

This MTA continues its advocacy for an early retirement incentive for Massachusetts educators, bill 1791 (now 2783). This bill must be decided by July 31, 2022, so now is the time to make your voice heard. Click here to see a fact sheet explaining the bill. Click here to send an email to your representative.

Charles E. Brown Fellowship Awards

The Newton Teachers Association announces the 2022-2023 recipients of its annual Charles E. Brown Professional Development Fellowship Awards, named for the renowned educator who served as Superintendent of Schools in Newton from 1960 to 1968. The awards program provides support for the professional development the Association’s members by underwriting the cost of substitute teachers for recipients to pursue their projects outside the classroom. The following projects have received awards this year: Project title: Developing Citywide Repository of 6th Grade Math Curriculum Plans, Resources, and Lessons

Educators Participating: Robert Conron, 6th Grade Math Teacher

Building(s): Day Middle School

Total number of days granted: 5

Description of Project: This project will focus on developing a system that allows general and special education teachers to easily organize, access, and contribute to a centralized database to house curriculum plans, lessons, and resources. This pilot project will focus on developing this resource for middle school 6th grade math. The goal is to develop a system which could be used in all curricular areas as a resource for educators.

Project title: Identifying Culturally Responsive and Trauma-Informed Methods to Enhance Behavioral Programming

Educators Participating: Lauren Beaulieu, BCBA

Building(s): Brown Middle School

Total number of days granted: 6

Description of Project: The purpose of this project is to identify whether discussion-based methods are effective at providing choices of evidence-based behavioral treatments in public schools. Discussion-based methods are common in other helping fields such as medicine (Burn et al., 2019); therefore, Ms. Beaulieu plans to adapt their methods to create a tool for behavioral services to solicit feedback from families and students and use this feedback in treatment planning. Benefits include providing trauma-informed and culturally responsive services to students and families and increased collaboration between behavior analysts and families.

Project title: English Teachers High School Special Programs Curriculum Development

Educators Participating: Corinne Popp, Kayla Kornreich, Allegra Duda, Heather Gilbert, Kristen Kamerik, Amanda Choi

Building(s): Springboard / NNHS / Harbor High / Central High / Southside Program

Total number of days granted: 6 (one per educator)

Description of Project: As English teachers in special/therapeutic programs, they don’t often have time or ability to collaborate with their English colleagues at the high schools. They will use this day to build a shared curriculum that is based on both not only high schools' English curriculum, but also adjusted for the needs of their specific student populations. They plan to build on what North and South do, adapted to the needs of teaching in a special or therapeutic program. The goal is to begin to create and implement a shared curriculum based around texts that work well with their students.

Project title: Person Centered ABA Curriculum Development

Educators Participating: Sara McKechnie and Spencer Marzano, Inclusion Facilitators

Building(s): Newton North High School

Total number of days granted: 10 (five per educator)

Description of Project: The educators engaged in this project work with students in the STRIDE program at the high school level. Each has years of experience writing ABA curriculum. They will use this time to improve the current ABA high school curriculum to reflect the most up to date practices in ABA as well as what autistic adults are advocating for schools to have. The goal will be to have a curriculum that is aligned to a scope and sequence, and which can be individualized for each student. By updating the curriculum, some of the district’s neediest students will in turn improve their skills and their ability to access other curriculum in the school.

Project title: Representation within Mathematics

Educators Participating: Bhavna Vaswani, Megan Maher, Elementary Math Coaches

Building(s): Zervas Elementary and Lincoln-Eliot Elementary

Total number of days granted: 10 (five per educator)

Description of Project: The Representation in Mathematics project is aimed at increasing diverse representation within the mathematics classroom. The work will focus on research into the diversity of people within the STEAM field and the gathering of resources. Overall, the goal is to provide at least two exemplar biographical lessons for teachers K-5 that are inclusive of diverse cultural and gender identities. Math tasks connected to the work of each applied mathematical field will be developed and designed to allow all students to engage in the STEAM activities. The lessons provided will reflect Newton’s stance on equity and UDL, and embedded in each lesson will be an opportunity for teachers to reflect on their own practices. Student outcomes include exposure to the diverse community within the STEAM world, having a sense of belonging in the math classroom, experiencing math beyond numbers and computation, and opening minds to the universality of math. Teacher outcomes include building awareness around the topic of diversity and representation in math classrooms, reflecting on personal experiences and messages around math, learning from individuals’ personal experiences in order to reflect on their own instructional practices, and adjusting teaching practices from insights gained.

Project title: Redesigning Curricula Using the UDL Framework

Educators Participating: Ricardo Gessa, Maureen Maher, World Language Teachers

Building(s): Newton South High School

Total number of days granted: 10 (five per educator)

Description of Project: This project will involve evaluating and redesigning the curricula for three Spanish courses (Spanish 2 ACP, Spanish 3 Honors, and Spanish 5 ACP). The curricula will be looked at through a UDL lens and modified accordingly. The goal will be to develop new instructional tools to present information in multiple ways, engaging a variety of students with multiple learning styles. Additionally, new assessment tools will be designed to give students multiple ways to demonstrate what they can do and what they know.

Project title: Developing a Resource Reference Guide for Working with English Learners

Educators Participating: Natasha Galichina and Kathy Lobo

Building(s): Brown Middle School and Newton North High School

Total number of days granted: 6 (three per educator)

Description of Project: This project is to write a handbook (printed and electronic in format) that is a desktop reference guide that includes some theory but mostly practice for how to shelter instruction to better meet the needs of English learners. This handbook would be for teachers of all grade levels, subject areas and for ELs of a range of English proficiency levels. It will be shared with colleagues at Newton South High School and Brown Middle School, and since this guide will not be school specific, it can be shared in other Newton Public Schools as well.

Project title: AAPI Outreach and Support for Newton South High School

Educators Participating: Suzy Drurey, Marianne McChesney, Lisa SooHoo

Building(s): Newton South High School

Total number of days granted: 9 (three per educator)

Description of Project: The award of this fellowship supports a larger project that is aimed at offering Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) awareness programs, leadership training, student workshops, and mental health support resources to raise awareness and support, and to amplify AAPI student voice at NSHS. This fellowship will provide release time for the educators to plan school wide AAPI events, plan professional development for faculty and staff, seek out and invite guest speakers, plan leadership training for AAPI student leaders, and plan mental health workshops to support students.

Newton Public Schools Scholars Academy for Paraprofessionals.

Today I sent out the below message to active Unit C members of the Newton Teachers Association. I am including it here as well to provide an additional opportunity for Unit C members to read the contents. I do so as well to make all members aware of a change the NTA has agreed to in how tuition reimbursements funds are disbursed. The goal is to make it more affordable for our BIPOC Unit C members to attain teaching licensure should they choose. *********************** I am sharing with you an opportunity to participate in the Newton Public Schools Scholars Academy for Paraprofessionals. The Academy is offered by NPS Department of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), in collaboration with Lasell University. The Academy provides an opportunity for self identified BIPOC paraprofessionals working in the Newton Public Schools to obtain their M. Ed. and their licensure to teach in Massachusetts in two areas:

  • M. Ed. in Education with licensure to teach grades 1 to 6

  • M. Ed in Special Education & Moderate Disabilities with licensure to teach in Pre-K to grade 8.

This program is designed to enhance accessibility for BIPOC staff by removing some of the barriers associated with financial and time constraints. Lasell University has graciously offered to cover two thirds of the costs of their graduate M. Ed. programs, as well as to work with the Newton Public Schools to offer classes at times and locations that optimize access. To further support participants, the NTA and NPS have agreed to offer additional financial support through our tuition reimbursement benefit. Currently, employees seeking licensure can apply for tuition reimbursement for graduate courses up to a maximum of $750 per year. We have agreed to increase that maximum to $2,500 per year for participants in the Academy for the following two years. Since the program extends over two school years, participants will be eligible for up to $5,000 in tuition reimbursement if they successfully complete their coursework. (Please note: All other guidelines and timelines for applying for and receiving tuition reimbursement will remain in place.) This is a unique opportunity, and I hope that many of you will be able to take advantage of this pathway towards becoming a licensed teacher. All self-identified BIPOC paraprofessional staff members are invited to join the Department of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for a virtual information session to learn more about the program, the application process, and ask any questions you have, as well as to help the DEI office prepare for its inaugural cohort in the Fall or Winter. Please complete this google form to RSVP for one of the two dates:

  • Monday, June 13, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

  • Tuesday, June 21, 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.

DEI will provide a zoom link prior to the time you've selected. If you would like information but cannot attend the information session, there is a box in the google form you can check so that DEI will contact you. Or you can reach out directly to Kathy Lopes, Director of DEI, at

MTA Summer Conference

This year's MTA Summer Conference will be held from July 31 to August 3 at UMass Amherst. Find out more about the conference by clicking here. And a reminder, if you keep your receipts for the costs of attending, and provide proof of attendance, the NTA will reimburse your costs, including the costs of transportation to and from Amherst, the costs of housing, and conference fees.

MTA New Member Summer Program

Are you a new educator interested in learning more about the union, but don't know where to begin? The New Member Program at MTA Summer Conference is for you! This program will run from July 31st to August 3rd at UMASS Amherst and is one track of the MTA Summer Conference. Through this program you will learn everything from union basics, reading and understanding your contract, as well as how to bargain a contract. This is a great opportunity to meet and network with other MTA members from across the state. This program is free to members in their the first five years. Please reach out to Ariana Foster ( with any questions. Registration is now open. In solidarity, Mike


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