School Board Approves Newtown Teachers Contract
The Board of Education unanimously approved a contract between the school district and the Newtown Federation of Teachers at its meeting on November 1.
The contract runs from 2023 to 2026, and Board of Education Chair Deborra Zukowski thanked those who worked toward the contract’s creation both on the district “team,” including board members, and on the Newtown Federation of Teachers “team.”
“It was a wonderful experience, the first time that [Board of Education member Jennifer] Larkin and I ever engaged in teacher contracts. And it was civil. It was productive. It was a very good experience for us, thank you,” Zukowski said to the members of the Newtown Federation of Teachers present for the meeting.
The meeting was streamed and recorded for viewing, and there was very little discussion of the contract before it was voted on by the school board. School board member Dan Cruson made the motion to approve the contract, and school board member Alison Plante seconded the motion.
The contract governs practices and procedures in the district. Topics covered by the contract include new matters during the term of the agreement, class size, resignation and retirement, protection of teachers, attendance, issuance of salary checks, placement on the district’s salary schedule, leave and personal days, teacher responsibilities, and tuition reimbursement.
Under the “discussion of new matters during term of agreement” portion of the contract, the document outlines ways to promote better communication between district administration and teachers. Those include consultation by the superintendent or his or her representatives with representatives of the Newtown Federation of Teachers at least once a month during the school year on “matters of educational policy and development, or any matters that are not covered by the agreement and on administration of the agreement.
The parties shall exchange agenda indicating the matter they wish to discuss no later than seven days prior to the scheduled meeting date, except for matters of urgency.” Consultation with a school principal and a Newtown Federation of Teachers representative is also listed as one of the ways to promote better communication.
Under the class size portion of the contract, the contract stipulates “regularly scheduled classes shall be planned for an average of  pupils and a maximum of  pupils.”
Points under the “Teacher Facilities” portion of the contract highlight that each school building will have space in each classroom for teachers to safely store instructional materials and supplies; a teacher work area containing adequate equipment and supplies to aid in the preparation of instructional materials; an appropriately furnished room, with a telephone, to be used as a faculty lounge; well-lighted and clean teacher restrooms and classrooms; and adequate parking space conveniently located at each school.
The “School Calendar” portion of the contract outlines things like the length of the school year and that compensation for teachers is based on a 187-day work year.
“If the board decides to lengthen the student school year beyond 183 days, the board agrees to compensate teachers for each student school day above 183 days at the rate of [.53%] of the applicable step on the salary schedule,” the contract reads.”
The school calendar portion also highlights that after the adoption of the district calendar, the superintendent will consult with the Newtown Federation of Teachers president and the school principals and “then notify the staff prior to June 15 which day in the next school year will be a professional day in which there will be no required district or building meetings to which individual teachers will be directed to attend by their supervisors.”
For the salary schedule, the contract explains salary will be determined with the years of credited experience a teacher has and degree status.
After the school board approved the contract, Zukowski asked Director of Business & Finance Tanja Vadas to send the contract to both the Legislative Council and Board of Finance for review.
Education Editor Eliza Van can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.