Brookline schools to reopen Tuesday after district, teachers union reach tentative agreement
Public schools in Brookline are reopening Tuesday after the Brookline Educators Union and the school committee reached a tentative agreement for a new contract.
Negotiations on Monday lasted more than 12 hours and ended just after 4 a.m. Tuesday. In a community message posted on the district's website, Superintendent Linus Guillory thanked families for their understanding during the closure.
"We are open and ready to welcome our students back!" he said in the message. "Thank you for your patience and support as we worked through the contract negotiation process."
Members of the the Brookline Educators Union, which represents more than 1,000 educators, also expressed relief that negotiations ended with a tentative agreement.
"I’m excited to return to my classroom today, thank you!" said Lawrence Middle School teacher Kevin MacKenzie in a tweet.
The one-day strike began Monday after union leaders said teachers had gone three years without a contract. The final sticking points before yesterday's work stoppage came down to guaranteed prep and collaboration time for teachers. The union also wants the district to take more substantive actions to attract and retain more teachers of color.
Parents and caregivers had little time to prepare for Monday's closure — which was first announced Sunday night. On social media, many said they were left scrambling to line up child care.
Faith Dantowitz, a member of the district's Special Education Parent Advisory Council, said many families in the group are still traumatized from the COVID-19 school closures and the significant disruptions in specialized education services that followed.
"The trauma comes back to these kids," she said. "They're concerned that this is going to go on and on and on and school will be done."
She said the council's parents were hoping for a quick resolution in which everyone feels like they got something they need.
While public employees, including teachers, are not allowed to strike under current Massachusetts law, it's not unheard of in the state. Brookline teachers coordinated a work stoppage on a professional development day in November 2020. Teachers in Dedham also went on strike in 2019.
Tom Juravich, a labor historian and professor at the UMass Amherst Labor Center, said he sees the Brookline Educators Union strike as part of a growing movement of teachers across the country.
"They have had to go through some of the most difficult times in COVID, especially being the first line of defense with kids' mental health and their issues at home," he said.
The Brookline Educators Union will be gathering at Town Hall after school to celebrate the victory and support other local unions that are also negotiating contracts right now.