Lots happening all at once, so fast it's hard to digest:
1. David Fleishman announced today that he will be leaving the Newton Public Schools after 12 years of service. This news comes rather as a shock so late in the school year, but I certainly wish him well--and I hope a lot less stress--in his new position.
2. Yesterday the Mayor allocated $1.6 million more to the budget to stop the most severe cuts to the budget. Earlier, between the initial announcement of a $5.2 million dollar deficit, and the presentation of the superintendent's proposed budget, she had already added approximately $1.2 million to the budget. That means the deficit is now stands at $2.4 million. That's still too much, we don't yet know precisely which and how many positions will be restored, and what will be our next steps. That said, we must give ourselves credit for putting extreme pressure on the mayor to restore this funding.
3. At Monday's School Committee meeting the members decided to postpone a vote on the MOA granting us $1,500 stipends, arguing that they needed to hear more clearly from the city and school attorneys whether it is in fact legal to offer these stipends with ARPA funding. That argument seems to me like a smokescreen for buyer's remorse, and is certainly a question that should have been asked prior to their negotiations subcommittee reaching a tentative agreement with us to grant the stipends. The very fact that at this late stage the full committee is now even contemplating (once again) reneging on a tentative agreement is incredibly disconcerting. I do believe that they will eventually vote yes, but it makes you wonder--to put the matter as diplomatically as possible. In any case, it is now likely that at the earliest we will receive the stipends is May, but it is more likely they won't come until the last paycheck of the school year.
4. Many of you are displaying NTA "Stop the Cuts, Fund the Schools" signs in your classroom windows. It is likely that all NPS staff will receive a memo tomorrow stating that the display of signs of a "political" nature in school windows violates school and city policy. The memo will require you to remove them, and not display any union or other signs in your window in the future.
We believe this is illegal. We have consulted extensively with MTA legal counsel, and believe that the district will in fact be in violation of our rights to "concerted union speech" under Massachusetts General Law 150E. We have expressed this concern to district council, and informed them that if they do require members to remove the signs, we will file an unfair labor charge with the Department of Labor Relations. This is a precedent we cannot allow to go uncontested. We hope that the district will reconsider.
If you do have signs displayed in the windows of your classroom, or have signs stored in your classrooms for standouts, upon receipt of a memo ordering you to remove the signs, we recommend you do so. But please display the signs in the windshields of your car in the most visible way possible!
On all of these matters we will communicate further as we know more, and have had the opportunity to digest all of this news.