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BPS teachers take part in ‘walk-in’ over union contract

Boston teachers from the Sumner Elementary School in Roslindale and their supporters took part in a walk-in demonstration. David L Ryan/Globe Staff

Teachers and their supporters staged the latest in a recent series of Boston Public Schools protests before classes Friday morning, marching in “walk-in” demonstrations across the city.

The actions were organized by the Boston Teachers Union to call on the School Department to speed contract negotiations and back down on some of the districts’ most controversial proposals. Participants also expressed frustration with a variety of other issues.

Amy Sicairos, a first-grade teacher at Roslindale’s Charles Sumner Elementary School who has taught in Boston for 23 years, counted deteriorating buildings, over-capacity classrooms, excessive time spent on standardized testing, and ever-rising standards among her concerns.


“It’s really difficult to do, with the conditions we’re being given,” she said.

Sicairos was among about two dozen teachers who marched with students out of the Sumner and into nearby Roslindale Village, chanting “We believe in BPS!” and toting signs with messages including “Save our public schools!” and “Fighting for English Language Learners! Join us!”

Rush-hour drivers honked horns in support.

“We just want to send the message that our schools are important,” said Louie Bello, the Sumner’s music director. “I think it’s getting lost in all the political nonsense that’s been going on. ... It’s about the kids.”

Teachers staged another walk-in last month, and students led protests in February, March, and May to oppose proposed cuts to next year’s school budget. Days after the March protest in which about 3,650 students — mostly from the city’s high schools — walked out of classes, Mayor Martin J. Walsh restored about $6 million to high school budgets.

Earlier this week, after the City Council rejected Walsh’s proposed city budget, he added a further $5 million to education spending.

At least 3,000 teachers and aides participated in Friday’s protests at about 106 of the city’s 125 schools, according to Richard Stutman, president of the teachers’ union.


“Teachers are very much concerned about the slow pace of negotations,” Stutman said. “There are some outstanding issues that really should not be outstanding after four months of really hard negotations.”

Stutman said the district wants to stop holding positions for mothers who take more than six months in maternity leave, increase class sizes in turnaround schools, and remove teachers’ aides from separate special education classrooms to serve as substitutes in mainstream classes.

The union contract expires Aug. 31.

Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.