Teachers' strike at New Haven Unified Schools enters 2nd week; students' attendance dwindles

Teachers in the New Haven Unified School District are now in their second week of striking for more pay and better working conditions.

As of Monday afternoon NHUSD Spokesman John Mattos was hopeful that there would movement from both sides at the bargaining table.

“We had a great opening session this morning,” Mattos said. “We got to air out some stuff and talk about some stuff. I think overall it was really positive.”

Teachers are growing frustrated with the school district after another round of weekend talks broke down Sunday night. The union, New Haven Teachers Association, is requesting a 10% raise over two years. The NHUSD is offering a 1% raise next year and a one-time 3% bonus. 

“We are at the last hour,” Darlene Crittendon, a physical education specialist at Delaine Eastin Elementary, said. “We need a contract that is fair for our students. We need a contract that is fair for our teachers.”

Mattos said any increases in pay would require serious and significant cuts that could include teacher layoffs, an increase in class sizes, the closure of an elementary school, and eliminating elementary and middle school assistant principals, among other things.

The teacher’s union said they want the district to consider a recommendation made by an independent fact finder that suggested the district offer a 6% raise over two years. Mattos has said the independent fact finder is not an auditor and did not look at the district’s finances when making that recommendation. He said the district cannot afford that raise.

The union and the district agree that they want teacher’s back in the classroom soon. Students are losing out on valuable instruction time with three weeks left in the school year. As the strike wears on student attendance at school has dwindled from 20% at the beginning of last week, down to 9% by the end of last week.