Strike rages on, Newton schools closed Monday

With negotiators unable to work out a bargain to end the teachers’ strike this weekend, Mayor Ruthanne Fuller announced that schools will be closed on Monday, calling the situation “frustrating and deeply disappointing” in a Sunday night email to the community.

“I believe firmly the adults can negotiate to resolve these issues and have a competitive contract that honors our teachers and is sustainable for our community …. while our children are in school learning,” Fuller wrote. “Tonight, the union can decide to continue negotiations with adults bargaining and our kids learning in classrooms. I ask the union to join us and put the kids first.”

A Middlesex Superior Court judge on Saturday ordered the NTA to call off the strike by Sunday at 3 p.m. That did not happen. So the union may be hit with fines as early as Monday.

Teachers have been on strike since Friday, after more than a year of failed contract negotiations between the School Committee and the Newton Teachers Association.

NTA leaders have placed blame for the breakdown in negotiations on Fuller, saying the mayor could fund their demands immediately if she wanted to. Fuller has refused to, despite a $46 million surplus she announced last year, because she wants to allocate funding incrementally.

Teachers insist the money is needed now, to pay for support staff and competitive salaries, and the mayor and School Committee have come back with offers inching closer to the NTA demands.

If and when such an offer will inch past a finish line and end the teacher strike is anyone’s guess. But for now, emotions remain raw and schools remain closed.