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Boston Teachers Union reaches potential contract deal with city

Jessica Tang, president of the Boston Teachers Union.
Jessica Tang, president of the Boston Teachers Union.(Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff/File 2019)

After more than a year of negotiations, the Boston Teachers Union told its members Wednesday it had reached a potential deal for a new contract, a move that could end a labor dispute before the new superintendent comes aboard in July.

Specifically, negotiating teams for both sides “have reached an agreement in principle on the terms of a successor contract,” according to a notice the union e-mailed to its members late Wednesday afternoon.

“We are in the process of reducing to writing and, following a review by both parties, expect to execute tomorrow,” the notice said. “If executed, the agreement will take meaningful steps towards creating the schools our students deserve.”

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No details on the potential agreement were released. City and school officials declined to comment. But both sides could release more substantive information on the tentative contract as soon as Thursday. Much of that timeline hinges on how much haggling might occur between the two sides as they refine and agree to the exact wording of a written proposal.

The news tops off a series of marathon negotiating sessions over the past week as the school year comes to a close. Failure to reach agreement now could likely delay resolution until the start of the next school year. Both sides have also expressed a desire to get the contract done before Brenda Cassellius starts as superintendent.

The resulting contract deal is expected to be closely watched on Beacon Hill, where any perception of hefty pay raises for teachers could potentially derail efforts by Mayor Martin J. Walsh and teacher union activists to secure more state funding for the school system. The average teacher pay in Boston was $99,368 in 2017, according to the most recent state data.

The union’s more than 7,500 members have been working without a contract since their last agreement expired in August. Votes on a new contract could take place at the union’s general membership meeting on June 12, the union said.

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Each of the union’s four bargaining units — teachers, paraprofessionals, substitutes, and other educator-related positions — would need to ratify the deal.

The School Committee would also need to approve the contract.

“While this agreement does not meet all of our aspirations, we do believe it will address many of the priorities that the BTU has made central to its contract campaign and in a significant way,” the union notice said.

The potential agreement comes a week after teachers delivered thousands of petitions to the School Committee demanding a fair contract. In addition to unspecified increases in pay, the union has been seeking a full-time nurse and full-time counselor in every school, smaller class sizes, and adequate support to help students with disabilities in mainstream classrooms.

School officials have been silent about their proposals.

The talks, by all appearances, appear to be less contentious than negotiations for the last contract two years ago, which reached an impasse that resulted in a state mediator stepping in.

The union, however, has held several public actions during the school year to draw attention to the negotiations, such as holding rallies.

Jessica Tang, the union’s president, informed members in her weekly newsletter Wednesday morning that the union was “hoping to share good news soon,” noting “our negotiating team has been working late into the night and even early morning all last week and again yesterday.”

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James Vaznis can be reached at james.vaznis@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globevaznis.