Teachers to City Council: ‘It is your turn now’

  • Northampton High School student Cherilyn Strader speaks in favor of greater pay for teachers at Thursday’s City Council meeting. Bera Dunau

Staff Writer
Published: 4/21/2019 11:38:15 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Teachers and community members packed City Council chambers on Thursday and voiced support for ongoing efforts to raise teacher pay in Northampton schools.

“Council members, it is your turn now,” said Marianne Lockwood, a special education teacher at Northampton High School.

Prior to the meeting, members of the Northampton Association of School Employees, or NASE, the union representing school staff in ongoing collective bargaining negotiations with Mayor David Narkewicz and the School Committee, rallied outside City Hall.

Andrea Egitto, a chapter coordinator for NASE, urged the council in its public comment period to reject the mayor’s budget, asserting that the budget, which was passed by the School Committee, doesn’t include a fair raise for teachers.

“We have sacrificed time and time again for this city that we love,” Egitto said. 

Egitto also said that the pay being offered in Northampton was making it difficult to attract and retain good teachers. Alex Jarrett, a worker-owner at Pedal People who is running for the Ward 5 council seat, raised the same point when he shared the story of a teacher friend who was considering moving from the Easthampton school system to Northampton, where she lives, but couldn’t justify the pay cut.

“We are losing qualified candidates who might otherwise work here,” he said. 

Applause and snaps of approval were heard throughout the public comment period. Support for striking Stop & Shop employees was also voiced by a number of speakers.

Speaking after the meeting, the mayor said that while the council can reduce items in the budget, it is not able to reject it entirely, according to the charter.

At the same time, the mayor said that it is not unusual for collective bargaining to go on after a budget has been approved, and if pay increases above what is in the budget were agreed to in collective bargaining, he would then go to the City Council to ask for an additional appropriation.

“That’s always been the process,” he said.

Three town hall budget meetings with the mayor are scheduled this month. They are planned for April 23 at Leeds Elementary School, April 24 at JFK Middle School and April 29 at the Northampton Senior Center.

All three meetings are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.




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