Newton Teachers Rally for New Contract as School Year Approaches

The first day of work for teachers in Newton, Massachusetts, turned into a rally as hundreds took to city hall to call for a new contract.

The Newton Teachers Association said the group's current contract expires this weekend. Their demands include pay raises and more recognition for para-professionals. The union president said they are getting closer to an agreement, but with summer ending, frustration is building.

"Working without a contract is not acceptable," union president Michael Zilles said. "It cannot be business as usual."

Some of their 2,000 members showed up at Newton City Hall Wednesday morning to protest. The crowd included teachers like Meghan Decatur.

"We haven't had a cost of living adjustment since the recession, not one that's livable," Decatur said.

A lot of the group's anger is aimed at the mayor who they believe is squeezing the school's budget.

The mayor would not say which demands the city will be able to meet, but she is hopeful they will be able to settle soon.

"I understand their frustration," Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said. "There are a lot of items on the table, but we will come to an agreement."

Until then, signs of support for the teachers are everywhere, not just at the rally, but on lawns across Newton.

Decatur said she is hopeful the city will be able to come back to the table before her students come back to the classroom next week.

"All we want to do is be there for the kids and the best thing they can do is give us a fair contract so we can be there for the kids even more," Decatur said.

The teachers said none of their actions will affect students, but they plan on staying silent during faculty meetings until they get a new contract.

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