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  • Writer's pictureMike Zilles

NTA EBulletin September 5, 2022

I hope you have enjoyed this long weekend. May your first day with students go well tomorrow!

In this issue:

Negotiations Update

On August 15, the elected members of our NTA Negotiations Team held a summer workshop, discussing, among other topics, our negotiations strategy at the bargaining table, our negotiations platform, and recruitment of members for the remaining seats on our team. The members present were:

  • Michael Zilles, President, NTA

  • Elizabeth Ross del Porto, First Vice President, Angier Elementary

  • Liz Simpson, Second Vice President, Oak Hill Middle School

  • Christine Walsh, Second Release Officer and Treasurer, NTA

  • Jason Leto, Field Representative, MTA

  • Michael Burtch, Unit A Member, Bigelow Middle School

  • Valerie Brunache Lewis, Unit C Member, Countryside Elementary School

  • Sue Cohen, Recording Secretary, Springboard Program

  • Tony Sbordone, Unit E Member, Ed Center

Since that meeting, the following members have volunteered to join out team:

  • Brenna Green, Unit A Member, Cabot Elementary

  • Lynn Penczar, Unit A Member, Lincoln-Eliot Elementary

  • Elana Cutler, Unit A Member, Brown Middle

  • Derek Knapp, Unit A Member, Newton North High

  • Marcia Okun, Unit A Member, Newton South High

  • Jayme Ellis, Unit A Member, Burr Elementary

  • Allie Andrews, Unit B Member, Lincoln-Eliot and other schools

  • Dan Rubin, Unit B Member, Newton South High

  • Sarah Wysocki, Unit C Member, Newton North High

  • Thuy Tuong, Unit C Member, Newton Early Childhood Program

  • Janette Patel, Unit C Member, Oak Hill Middle School

This team will bargain with representatives from the Newton School Committee Negotiations Team, Tamika Olszweski, Kathy Shields, and Paul Levy, along with NPS central administrators, to decide the terms of our next contract. Even with the very substantial increases in wages and benefits we negotiated in the last contract, given the current rates of inflation, these negotiations are very, very important for the working life and future fiscal situation of all our members!

If our campaign last spring to close the budget gap and prevent cuts to critical programs is an indicator, the forecast seems stormy, BUT we intend to go into the process with this simple goal - to efficiently achieve for our membership the best possible contract we can. For those of you who have worked here for any length of time, you are well aware of the long history of the Newton of the School Committee dragging the process out and driving us into the next school year without a new contract, often resulting in a year with little or no salary increases. We will do all we can to reach agreement on fair terms for a successor agreement before our current contract expires.

Once again, we will likely need your support as we build a campaign to support these negotiations. We will be strategic about how we develop our campaign, and we will carefully choose any actions we ask of you. As our solidarity is our greatest strength as a union, whether it’s stand-outs, t-shirts, signs, or rallies, we will need maximum participation from the highest possible number of members. We are strongest when we are united!

Stay tuned for regular updates here in this EBulletin, from building reps, and from members of the Contract Action Team in your building.

Fair Share Amendment

November 8th. That is the date when Massachusetts voters will decide whether those who earn more than one million dollars per year will pay their fair share of income taxes towards pre-k to 12 and higher education as well as transportation. To learn more about the Fair Share amendment and ways you can participate in your city or town, click here.

If you would like to join your NTA colleagues to mobilize support here in Newton, we have organized the following events:

Click here to sign up to phone bank for an hour from our NTA office between 4:00 and 7:00 on September 21, October 4, and October 19. Bring your laptops.

Phone banking is not what you think it is. You will be using a dialer that immediately puts you on the phone with a real person--no ringing, no answering machines, no waiting. You will be calling likely yes voters who will actually be glad to speak with you! And MTA will provide you with an easy script to follow.

Click here to sign up to canvas in Newton on Saturday, September 24, from 4:00 until 6:00.

Thanks to Mike Schlegelmilch for organizing this canvas, and an earlier canvas this summer!

Loan Forgiveness

I'm sure you have been reading about Biden's most recent plans to reduce student debt. That's currently making the headlines.But did you know that, as public educators, you also likely qualify for complete loan forgiveness? Last spring, the Biden administration made it much easier to qualify.

But in order to take advantage of this opportunity, you must apply before October 31, 2022.

Through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness waiver, the U.S. Education Department is making it possible for many full-time public servants, including school district employees, to qualify for immediate and total federal student loan forgiveness, or to be closer to qualify for total loan forgiveness in the near future.

Don't lose this opportunity! Applications must be in by October 31!

Borrowers will have to consolidate their non-Direct Federal student loans into the Direct Loan program and submit a Public Service Loan Forgiveness form to certify their employment before the deadline. More information is available at


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