Massachusetts

Melrose Teachers May Strike, Mayor and School Officials Say

The Melrose Education Association and the school committee have been in contract negotiations for months, and school officials said the teachers union could vote to strike as soon as Friday

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After months of failed contract negotiations with the school committee, the teacher's union in Melrose, Massachusetts, may be preparing to strike.

According to a letter sent to parents from Superintendent of Schools Julie Kukenberger, the Melrose Education Association could vote to strike as soon as Friday.

The move would temporarily close schools.

"It has come to our attention that members of the Melrose Education Association … are planning on taking a vote in the near future that may affect school operations beginning as early as tomorrow or next week," Kukenberger wrote in an email to parents and guardians. "MEA leaders have not contacted any Melrose Public Schools officials about their plans or responded to a direct request for information, so the situation remains unclear, but we wanted to provide some information today so that parents and guardians can begin to make alternate plans for their children, if necessary."

Many parents who received the email told NBC10 Boston they were initially caught off-guard, but that they were not surprised.

"It was like, 'Oh, OK. It's 3:15 on Thursday," said Melrose mother Ellen Steward. "Let's figure out what we're going to do as working parents to make sure our kids have coverage."

Steward is also the president of the Hoover Elementary School PTO.

"I just hope that the teachers know that the parents are behind them," she said. "At least this parent, for sure."

Contract negotiations between the MEA and school committee have now been ongoing for nearly 200 days.

"To learn about this maybe days before anything can pop off? It feels irresponsible," said Concetta Green, a parent of two children in Melrose Public Schools. "This is something that has been building and growing for quite some time. We need to fix it. No more excuses."

On Tuesday, educators took a vote of "no confidence" in Mayor Paul Brodeur and the school committee.

Several rallies have also been held, with another planned for this Sunday.

Logistics behind mediation are still in the works, according to the superintendent's letter.

"We've been dealing with this contract situation for a very long time, since before the school year started. And pressure and frustration and sadness has been building up ever since," said Melrose mother Sam Hammar. "Everyone's losing. Especially the children."

NBC10 Boston reached out to the Melrose Education Association on Thursday for more information, but did not hear back.

"I was disheartened to hear the announcement today that the Melrose Education Association (MEA) is planning to vote to hold a teachers’ strike," Brodeur wrote in a letter to the community Thursday evening. "MEA leaders have not contacted any Melrose Public Schools officials about their plans or responded to a direct request for information, but District leadership is under the impression that a strike could take place as early as tomorrow, Friday, January 13, or Tuesday, January 17. As Superintendent Kukenberger indicated, a strike will cause schools to close for all students."

Kukenberger did not respond to a request for comment.

Melrose School Committee Chair Margaret Raymond Driscoll declined to comment, but said if a statement is issued, NBC10 Boston will be notified.

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