Newburgh Enlarged City School District educators, teaching assistants and supporters marched to the Newburgh Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, September 12 seeking a new contract. The march comes just a few days after the start of the 2023-2024 school year.
On Tuesday afternoon, hundreds of Newburgh Teacher Association (NTA) members gathered at the municipal lot located off Ann and Washington Streets with signs that read “Respect Is A Contract, Value Educators, Students Need Teachers Teachers Need A Contract!”
The NTA covers three units in the district, those being the teachers, the teaching assistants and the substitute teachers. The NTA represents over 1,200 educators in the district, along with other staff such as school nurses and counselors. NTA President Stacy Moran and her colleagues chanted through the afternoon, calling on district leaders to change the contracts and recognize the force of the teachers union.
During public comment at the school board meeting, Moran expressed frustration for the work of educators still under an expired contract and that teachers had not yet been paid since September 8. Moran was critical of the delay in teachers receiving schedules at the end of August, open teaching positions, limited time for teachers to become acquainted with technology and needs for supplies. Proposals, according to Moran, have been made and sent to the district but have not been accepted. Other critical points noted by Moran were the proposed removal of teacher prep time and the tying of student resources to attendance by the instructor.
“The most important part of your work is to support the educators so that we can make sure that every student learns and thrives,” said Moran, adressing the board. “ Public education is a critical civil and human right. Strong public schools create strong communities.”
Moran also concurred with statements made by the Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jackielyn Manning Campbell at a previous board meeting addressing low morale, high turnover and inability to attract quality candidates.
Following the return from executive session, Manning Campbell said the Director of Mediation for Public Employment and Relations has arranged to meet with the district in September.
“We know you came here with an interest in having a new collective bargaining agreement in place with the district. That is also our interest,” she said. “We are hoping for a swift resolution of the negotiations with an agreement satisfactory to all.”
Moran expressed pride in seeing her fellow NTA members join her in solidarity.
“We want to attract and retain our teachers. And to do that, we need to make sure we have a fair contract. Because teachers are the bedrock of the Newburgh Enlarged City School District. We are what makes the Newburgh District what it is. It’s a great district because we have great teachers,” she said.
Retired Newburgh teacher and current Assemblyman Christopher Eachus, along with Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson, marched alongside the Newburgh educators. Mayor Torrance Harvey and Councilman Anthony Grice, also currently employed by the district, marched as well with their colleagues.
“This is one of the most ridiculous years that we should have to do that, as teachers, as a union and so on like that,” said Eachus.
The school district had previously issued a statement prior to the Tuesday night meeting and appearance by the gathered educators shared by Cassie Sklarz, Director of Communications.
“The negotiating teams for the district and the Newburgh Teachers Association will be joined by the Director of Mediation & Conciliation services of the NYS [New York State] Public Employment relations Board later this month and are hopeful there will be a settlement soon. The last contract expired on June 30, 2023. Under the Triborough law, all step advancements, newly acquired longevity and newly acquired credits are being paid and all of the provisions in the previous contract remain in full force and effect.”