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Melrose School Committee, teachers union reach tentative contract deal to avoid strike

Melrose parents Katherine Mitchell Dirico, left, and Julie Curti participated in a rally sponsored by the Melrose Education Association for a new teachers contract in front of Melrose City Hall in November.Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

Melrose Public Schools teachers and the School Committee came to an agreement on a new contract Saturday night, avoiding a strike that was set to begin Tuesday, officials announced.

The three-year contract will run retroactively from July 1 of last year to June 30, 2025, and includes cost-of-living and market adjustments totaling 10 percent over the contract’s term, according to a joint statement issued by the Melrose School Committee and the Melrose Education Association.

“On behalf of the Melrose School Committee, I believe that this contract shows our dedication to both the interests of the community and the commitment of our hard-working teachers,” School Committee Chair Margaret Driscoll said in the statement. “We look forward to the MEA’s continued partnership in support of students, as we continue the tradition of excellent education provided to all students in Melrose.”


The contract also provides more preparation time for teachers and will “enable Melrose to recruit and retain high-quality educators who serve all students,” the statement said.

“The Melrose Education Association extends our sincere thanks to everyone who supported us as we worked to reach a tentative agreement with the Melrose School Committee that meets the needs of our members, our students, our families, and our community,” MEA President Lisa Donovan said in the statement. “We are especially proud of the Melrose educators who so eloquently and passionately fought for the schools that our Melrose community deserves.”

The teachers will hold a “victory rally” with families and students on Sunday at 1 p.m. in the city’s Memorial Knoll Park to celebrate the agreement, said Jonathan Ng, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Teachers Association.

“We’re enormously pleased at the outstanding tentative contract Melrose educators won this evening for their students, their members, and their community,” MTA President Max Page said in a statement. “The Melrose Education Association is the latest MTA local to do all that is necessary to win the learning conditions that our students deserve.”


On Friday, leaders of the Melrose union, which represents about 450 teachers and other school workers, voted to authorize a strike Tuesday if a deal was not reached by then.

Mayor Paul Brodeur said he was proud the sides came together on a contract and that it marks “a significant investment in our students, educators and school district.”

“I’m grateful for the hard work of our bargaining team, including my colleagues on the School Committee and the Superintendent, and for the collaboration of the MEA team,” Brodeur said in the statement.

Melrose school officials sought mediation last month after talks stalled, and they learned Thursday that the state Department of Labor Relations would assist, according to Brodeur.

Union members had said mediation would only slow down negotiations.

It’s illegal for Massachusetts teachers and other public employees to strike. The Massachusetts Teachers Association supports state legislation that would allow some public sector workers, such as teachers, to go on strike. (The proposal would not apply to public safety workers, such as police officers.)

Melrose Superintendent of Schools Julie Kukenberger said she was “beyond grateful” the teachers and school committee reached an agreement.

“This contract not only provides our dedicated teachers with the compensation they deserve, it also provides them with more preparation time to support thoughtful and engaging lessons designed for our students in personalized and individualized ways,” Kukenberger said in the statement. “A strong, competitive salary schedule will help the district retain our amazing educators and fill critical positions needed to better serve our students.”


In recent days, Melrose’s educators have been gaining widespread support, including from unions representing school workers in Boston, Lawrence, Worcester, Cambridge, Somerville, Malden, Newton, Haverhill, and Brookline, according to the Melrose union.

Supporters launched an online fund-raiser Saturday to back a fund for Melrose educators, had they gone on strike.

The negotiations in Melrose were occurring as teachers in Canton are in mediation with the town’s school leadership for a new contract.

Sarah Joncas, the Canton union’s vice president, said the negotiations team voted to enter into work-to-rule following the first mediation session last month.

During the second session Saturday, Joncas said the team made some headway, including on wages and personal days for education support professionals. An agreement for teachers remains a work in progress, she said, but they are “cautiously optimistic” about the direction of negotiations.

The Canton union’s negotiators also voted to suspend work-to-rule following the meeting Saturday, she said. Their next session is scheduled for Jan. 24.

“The support that we have felt from the Canton community and our fellow educators, both current and retired, has been invaluable,” she said.

Canton School Committee Chair Kristian Darigan Merenda, in a statement Saturday, said the day’s mediation session was productive.

“We have dedicated, caring professionals on both sides of the bargaining table, and I remain confident that we will finalize a fair agreement soon,” Merenda said.


Adria Watson of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com. Nick Stoico can be reached at nick.stoico@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickStoico.