Brookline Public Schools will be closed on Monday, with educators planning to go on strike after failed contract talks on Sunday. The closure is the latest development in ongoing talks between the Brookline School Committee and the Brookline Educators Union (BEU).
In a letter on Sunday, Superintendent Linus Guillory wrote that the two sides failed to reach an agreement on the teachers’ contract during a third mediation session. The BEU then accepted an offer to continue negotiations with a mediator this afternoon, according to Guillory. But an agreement in principle was not reached and the BEU informed school officials of its intention to strike on Monday.
Without BEU members, Brookline schools will not have enough staff to function properly.
“There simply won’t be the staff capacity to operate all of the schools safely, nor can PSB provide the structured education required by the state for the day to legally count as a school day. ‘school,” Guillory wrote.
The mediator will continue to moderate the discussions on Monday when another session is scheduled. Since mediation may continue late into Monday evening, any official announcement of additional school closures will occur no later than 6 a.m. Tuesday, according to Guillory.
Monday’s strike was initially approved by BEU members last Thursday, in case the two groups fail to reach an agreement in time. The union overwhelmingly voted in favor of the strike, with BEU member Justin Brown write on twitter that 95% of voting members were in favor of the strike.
The BEU and the school committee negotiated for about nine hours late Saturday and Sunday. A mediator declared a stalemate at 3:50 a.m. Sunday, according to a statement from the Brookline school board. The top three issues discussed were salaries, educator diversity, teacher preparation and joint planning time, according to the release.
On Twitter, the BEU wrote that the school board “denied educators the need for guaranteed duty-free daily prep time, guaranteed time for colleagues to collaborate each week, and substantive action to attract and retain educators of color”.
“Brookline educators can no longer tolerate the School Board’s dismissive attitude toward educators or its drive to dismantle the quality of our schools,” the BEU said in the statement.
Brookline educators have worked without a contract for three years, the union said.
The school board wrote in a statement that its latest proposal included a general increase of 6% in all salaries, allowances and longevity payments until August 2023, followed by 8% until August 2026, with 1 % extra on August 1st. 31, 2026.
The school committee also proposed “a forum in which BEU-designated educators could meet with the superintendent to address issues of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.”
Nearly a hundred people gathered outside Brookline City Hall on Saturday to rally in support of the BEU.
“This is what democracy looks like. Democracy doesn’t stop at the workplace door and a thousand BEU members said so this week, when they said they were done with the lack of respect,” BEU President Jessica Wender-Shubow told the crowd.
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