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Haverhill schools to reopen Friday after teachers and district reach deal

Striking Haverhill public school teachers held a rally outside of Haverhill City Hall Tuesday.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Haverhill Public Schools will reopen Friday after teachers and the district agreed on a new contract late Thursday night, ending a nearly week-long strike, officials said.

“After many hours of negotiations and back and forth, we were able to strike a finalized deal very recently,” School Committee member Scott Wood Jr. said at a news conference at Haverhill City Hall, according to video broadcast by WBZ-TV. “We are extremely excited to get the teachers back in the classroom, to get our students back where they belong, in the classrooms, and let them do what they do best — educate kids.”

WBZ reported that while schools will be open, buses will not be running because there was not time to schedule them.

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Haverhill Education Association President Tim Briggs said at the news conference that teachers had “won a financial package that represents a substantial investment in our public schools, closing the damaging wage gap between Haverhill educators and educators in other districts.”

On Wednesday, Briggs said the financial package was valued at about $25 million, the Globe reported.

“We won language that addresses student safety; we won language to develop a more diverse teaching force,” Briggs said, according to the video. “All of these are a tremendous benefit to the 8,000 students in Haverhill Public Schools.”

Shortly before 11 p.m., Briggs and Woods signed the tentative agreement in front of television cameras and flanked by educators standing behind them. The agreement must still be approved by teachers through a ratification vote.

Briggs said labor secretary and former Boston mayor Martin J. Walsh had helped them reach an agreement through phone conversations, with assistance from Senators Edward J. Markey and Elizabeth Warren, State Rep. Andres Vargas, Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini, and other officials.

The Massachusetts Teachers Association said in a statement late Thursday that it “applauds the members of the Haverhill Education Association for their steadfast commitment to their students and their community in reaching a contract agreement that addresses decades of underfunding for the Haverhill Public Schools and their educators — and makes important advances in building safer and more racially just public schools.”

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Haverhill teachers were on strike for a fourth day Thursday, despite a court injunction ordering them to stop. Public employees in Massachusetts, including teachers, are barred from striking.

The Haverhill School Committee and the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board secured a temporary restraining order late Monday afternoon from an Essex County Superior Court judge requiring teachers to end the strike. Following a hearing Tuesday at Essex County Superior Court in Newburyport, Judge James Lang issued an injunction, ordering all teachers to report back to work and union leaders to stop encouraging any strike activity.

In Malden, teachers voted Wednesday to ratify a new three-year contract after a deal was struck following a one-day strike.

Globe correspondent Nick Stoico contributed to this report.


Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him @jeremycfox.