School Committee: We are ‘extremely close’ to contract deal

It’s been an exhausting two weeks for many, but the School Committee is offering a ray hope.

On Friday, the committee sent out a statement announcing that they were “extremely close” to reaching a deal with the Newton Teachers Association.

“Although negotiations persisted throughout the night and did not pause until 6:00 AM this morning, the parties have not yet reached agreement. We remain optimistic about the progress we’ve made towards a return to school on Monday,” the statement reads.

Schools have been closed since Jan. 19. On Thursday night, the School Committee voted to cut February vacation to make up some of the dozen days students have missed this academic year.

“Both sides have been working extremely hard to get our kids and educators back in school,” the School Committee statement continues. “The parties have agreed to COLA increases for all members that honor our educators and paraprofessionals and are sustainable over the life of the contract. The remaining contractual issues to resolve are related to flexibility the district seeks for its leadership to manage the structure of the school day and best serve students.”

At a press conference Thursday night, NTA representatives said the gap in money between the NTA’s demands and the School Committee’s proposals was down to about $4 million over the life of the contract. It was $36 million at the start of negotiations.

Negotiations were set to continue Friday afternoon.