Andover Public Schools close as teachers union votes to go on strike

Local News

“We do not make this decision lightly but this action is necessary for the long term health and sustainability.”

Andover Public Schools will be closed Friday after the teachers union voted to authorize an open-ended strike. 

The Andover Education Association said 95 percent of its membership voted in favor of starting an open-ended strike “until the school committee bargains in good faith for a fair contract the meets the needs of our educators and students.”

“We do not make this decision lightly but this action is necessary for the long term health and sustainability,” the union said in a statement. “The AEA has bargained with the Andover School Committee 27 times. The union is seeking to raise the pay of instructional assistants who are currently earning far below what is considered a living wage for the region. The AEA is also seeking fair raises for teachers; protections for educator prep time; longer lunch and recess periods for the youngest learners; access to paid family and medical leave; and greater educator voice in curriculum decisions.”

In a statement, Tracey Spruce, chair of the Andover School Committee said district schools will be closed through the duration of the strike. The school committee and administrators will provide boxed breakfasts and lunches for students that can be picked up at Bancroft Elementary School, she said, while athletics and theater rehearsals may continue for students. 

The school committee, she wrote, does not condone the action being taken by the union.

“We are incredibly disappointed in this decision by the AEA to take this illegal action that unfairly disrupts the education of our students,” Spruce said. “As we shared with the community earlier today, the School Committee has filed a petition with the Department of Labor Relations to stop the strike. The School Committee bargaining teams have negotiated in good faith to reach contracts that are fair to all educators and staff and we urge the union bargaining team to immediately come back to the negotiating table and work with us in good faith to reach agreement.”

It is illegal for teachers and other public sector employees to go on strike in Massachusetts. But  there is a push on Beacon Hill to change the law, and the state has recently seen teachers unions initiate strikes in Woburn, Brookline, Malden, and Haverhill.