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No school again in Newton

Word just went out. The Newton Beacon reports that with the teacher strike about to enter its tenth school day, some Garden City non-profits and businesses are offering programming for students.

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I'm glad to see that community organizations, both public and private, are stepping up to provide programming for kids during daytime hours - including some free or pay-what-you-can.

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And kind. And also good business, because those vacation camps they were planning aren't going to happen.

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Newton: "We just don't have the money." (Because we voted to not have the money.)

Don't let people tell you it's complicated, it's not. We are simply witnessing how much the wealthy citizens of Newton value their teachers in real time.

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They are already some of the best paid in the state and the high school is brand new. It's famous as being one of the most expensive in Massachusetts.

The teachers have a right to negotiate but you can't say the town doesn't value their schools.

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They *love* their obscenely expensive school I'm sure, I am saying they don't value their teachers.

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If they didn't value their teachers they'd agree to the contract as proposed and then lay off a bunch of school staff to keep the budget even. (Or make cuts elsewhere to things Newton also cares about.)

Maybe the town should agree to the proposed contract but it's not a matter of being heartless and dismissive of teachers.

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You forgot the option that they could simply raise taxes.

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That really isn't that much if that's all the union wants. Being able to fill 50 counselor spots in a year is asking a lot. Not sure what the rush is on that. Not sure why they can't wait till the summer to figure that out. It's not like they can fill all those spots this week or even this year.

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The city cannot just raise taxes. That is against state law.

The mayor asked for a tax override in 2023. It didn't pass. There is no more money.

Is your position that because the override didn't pass, the citizens of Newton are not entitled to a public education system? The NTA is the only entity that thinks this 15 million dollars can be conjured out of air.

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The override vote could have gone differently, no? That was the *citizens of Newton* who voted not to raise their taxes, right?

I can't tell if I am getting worked or people really don't understand this stuff.

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The override could have gone either way. That's how democracy works. "No" won with a percentage of the vote in the low 50s.

Now what?

Newton shouldn't get public schools?

Newton should fund the public schools with the money that the citizens allocated?

Newton should fund the public schools with money that doesn't exist and face that fiscal crisis in the future?

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so ... the citizens f'd around (did not pass the override) and found out, is that fair?

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Is that the NTA is a bunch of bullies that could care less about the kids and only care about money. An illegal strike for money that doesn’t exist is a bad look.

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Someone shouldn't have impregnated a woman, and then left daytime education and oversight of the kid to people they've never met.

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Newton did not pass the override. It should (and is) giving the school the money that it does have.

If that results in such a bad contract that all the good teachers leave, then maybe the citizens of Newton will pass an override in the future to increase school funding and hopefully better the school system.

OR maybe the current level of funding is sufficient and the school system will be just fine.

I just don't see how, given the facts, the NTA expects their position to go over.

Signed, someone who voted for the override

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Clearly Newton doesn't want public schools.

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It's not like 64% of the budget goes to the schools.

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The people of Newton rejected the override. Wages are increasing and it is stupid to think that teachers in Newton would accept less pay. If the mayor and the council want to throw up there hands and say they can't negotiate then the strike will go on. The mayor can start making the cuts and layoffs, but Newton has no one to blame but Newton.

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So the teachers will only have themselves to blame too.

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The proposals from both sides always called for a pay increase.

If you were on the school committee or the Mayor, what would you do? Every employee and every department (not just schools) thinks they are underpaid and underfunded and doing critical work.

Saying the residents of Newton are horrible people doesn't solve the problem.

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Arbitration could raise teacher pay even more. This is what the residents voted for. The mayor is afraid to tell Newton the truth.

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No one is proposing pay cuts.

The NPS budget is increasing at 5% when the City budget is increasing at 3.5%.
Everyone is getting raises, big raises. The NTA is striking over just how big those raises will be.

An override is not required to operate Newton schools. Perhaps an override was necessary to prevent the NTA from throwing a temper tantrum. But that's another matter.

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Its not a temper tantrum, it is collective bargaining. You can't outlaw the power of workers.

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Teachers: We literally cannot afford to live in the community we teach, we are working second jobs, we cannot fill support positions like Paras because the salary isn't enough for the work.

You: BUt ThE ScoOOL BulziDING is SO NIcE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bruh, would you accept shit wages because your office has really shiny new luxury desks???

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Have a lower median income than the median Newton teacher income already. Which is to say, believe it or not, teachers in Newton already make more than most people who live in Newton.

If it was only asking people who make more than teachers to vote teachers a raise, it would be one thing. But that's not what's going on. You're asking people to vote that teachers should get bigger raises than they get on income that's already more than they make. And they didn't.

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Why do you think it's odd to pay teachers an *average* salary? Or even significantly over the average? They are highly educated professionals who live in very expensive places to whom we entrust our children's minds.

May you and the people you love avoid doctors and lawyers with average salaries.

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For better or worse, lawyers and doctors aren’t paid out of public coffers.

I don’t know enough about the situation in Newton, but I can imagine residents are understandably frustrated.

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Pay the teachers.

That's it.

Aw, your taxes are going up a few dozen dollars a year? Too bad.

Give them the aides they need.

There are new mandates from the state every year. Parents getting their kids who don't need IEPs onto IEPs so the kid can get better grades by doing less work.

Parents, especially in wealthy districts, who email the teachers on the weekends suggesting their kid really should get an A when their kid has the cognitive ability of a grape or that they really need to know the grade from the test the kid took an hour ago so they can go skiing at Waterville Valley.

Mandates from the state "You have to add 3 days of teaching about the Nik Nok people of the Seychelles to your curriculum next year - fit it in with all the other mandates".

I know a lot of teachers (and administrators). They work hard. Very hard. Well after the workday is "over".

These people have professional degrees just like you. Pay the teachers. Get them the help they need.

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Stop trying to change the subject.

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The Committee for Public Counsel Services pays attorneys, as well as psychologists, expert witnesses, transcribers, and others required for lower-income folks to get their due process. They pay attorneys $85 per hour at the moment. Some of the attorneys don't even do the work to warrant this measly rate, literally not bothering to meet their clients until they show up in court to not-really-defend-them. Others spend considerable hours doing social work that they can't bill for: giving clients rides to appointments, getting job interviews set up and making resumes with them, and scouring Facebook for free furnishings and kids' items so they have a spotless home that can be inspected. While many of the court-appointed attorneys are amazing, on the whole, they are less effective than privately hired attorneys.

40% of people in Massachusetts have Masshealth, which pays doctors and other healthcare providers. Numerous studies show that despite providers' claims that "I don't even have anywhere to see what kind of insurance someone has," people with public insurance receive poorer quality of care.

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Doesn't even have to be that complicated. The VA Hospitals directly employ tons of doctors (and nurses, and lawyers!) There is literally an entire federal government branch for law, legal shit, and lawyers. The military has their own hospitals and their own doctors.

Those people are largely paid semi-commensurate with the field, or the positions go unfilled.

But nobody is complaining about the surgeon putting a soldier back together making surgeon money.

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About how doctors are paid.

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If teachers want to be treated like doctors and lawyers, try acting like them.

Hint: They don't strike when they just don't get their way.

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Are you sure about that?

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A couple of my mentors in public health started off their career by organizing a strike by interns that kicked off a series of court decisions saying that doctors couldn't be treated like slaves because they were still in training.

House Officers Strike at Boston City Hospital. Look it up.

More of them are unionized than you think.

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#whatabout

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I don't know about lawyers, but doctors in Germany this week, England last month, Elmhurst Hospital in Queens in May (first doctor strike in NYC since 1990), a strike was averted but authorized by doctors in LA County near the end of last year...

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I don't think it's odd at all to pay teachers an average salary. Teachers in Newton are already getting more than an average salary. But now they want to climb farther above average faster than the people paying those salaries. They have asked, the people have declined, and now they're hurting kids to get their way.

The comparison with doctors and lawyers is absurd. Are you unaware of the difference in educational requirements?

Teacher: four years undergraduate, plus licensure.

Doctor: four years undergraduate, plus four years medical school, plus three to seven years residency.

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In Massachusetts, full teaching licensure requires a Master's Degree.

You have 5 years to get one if you don't have one when you start teaching. If you don't get an M.Ed. by that time, you don't teach anymore.

READ: https://www.doe.mass.edu/licensure/academic-prek12/license-types.html

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...but I don't think it's unreasonable for teachers to receive above-average wages. Teachers aren't valued in the US as they are in many other countries, in any sense of the word.

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Probably because most of them are women.

More and more of society's ills are thrust upon the teacher's plate. It's also great that so many learning and emotional disabilities are being recognized. However, teachers aren't given the time and resources to factor these into lessons and planning time. There are only so many hours in day, which include plenty of work outside of the building. Oh yeah, they have to recertify their license every 5 years which includes professional development, classes, and the fee, all out of the teacher's pocket.

I'm not a Newton teacher, but I stand with them. My friends with students in Newton seem to be, too.

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Everyone's in their own bubble.

In yours, the parents are with the NTA. In mine, just the opposite.

I would really like to see a poll because its hard to tell what the percentages are.

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Probably because most of them are women.

This. Teaching in the United States was much more respected and valued when teachers were mostly men.

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It's not like these people are responsible for our children's safety, well-being, and education for 50+ hours a week.

The gall of these teachers, man.

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So you think this middle class teachers stepping on the poor of Newton?

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Newton has exactly the same flat percentage tax as any other municipality in Massachusetts. That means there is simply no way to tax "the wealthy residents of Newton" without also nailing the people who really are living in the edge, possibly because they did everything to live in a district with good schools. And there are a lot of older people who have lived in their same modest Newton home their entire adult lives. They are the most vulnerable to tax increases.

I hate when wealthier people hide behind those less fortune in order to save a buck of their own. But there is simply no way to tax the wealthy and spare the vulnerable. (No, a residential deduction doesn't solve the problem, at least property values are so crazy.)

Then add on top Newton's small commercial tax base. And the fact that the entire city has been running on what is basically an austerity budget. We are finally fixing the pool that leaks enormous amounts of water every day, but we pave the roads out of the free cash left over at the end of the year.

We need to spend more money on schools. Lots more.money. But that's different than spending a one time surplus on an ongoing teachers contract. Get a fair contract done now.

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Newton Public Schools have a higher teacher retention rate than the districts that the NTA uses as comparators. If the compensation package were as bad as the NTA is pretending, how would that be the case?

Also of note, the other elected officials in Newton, who have no reason to carry water for the Mayor's budget allocation, are saying that there is no more money to put toward the school budget. This includes the elected school committee and 23 out of the 24 city councilors. Only the NTA, with its magical powers, sees more money that the mayor is purportedly hiding.

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Newton voters were presented with two override votes in the same election, both of which included money for schools. One passed, the other didn't.

It's overly simplistic to say Newton voted not to have money for schools. Increasing Newton taxes passed. Unfortunately, the override had to be broken into two separate ballot questions and some people were willing/able to increase their taxes once but not twice in one year.

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Is there a point at which the school department decides to cancel the rest of the school year? (In the 1994.baseball strike, MLB canceled the remaining season and postseason 34 days into the strike.)

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For the love of larry it's only February 1st.

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Almost certainly not. There's a mandated number of instructional days per year that constitute a school year. It's much more likely that the year is simply extended however many weeks the strike goes on. Same deal as in years like 2015 where snow days wrecked the normal schedule for the year.

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There are a couple of potentially conflicting obligations: minimum number of school days in a year (180) versus maximum number of potential school days.

We're weeks away from encountering that conflict. There are intermediate steps:

First, they extend school by using up optional snow days, to the maximum end date of June 30th. We are already past that, with ten days missed.

Next there is a group of options. I see this as the likely order:

A. Start taking away vacation days, beginning with April vacation and continuing back to February vacation. They could gain ten school days this way. I expect they have already begun to roll back April vacation.
B. Convert "professional development days" and holidays into school days (three possible days: Good Friday, Memorial Day, Juneeteenth).
C. Start booking Saturdays as regular school days (22 available).
D. Start scheduling school days after June 30th.

Another possibility is that the school system could apply for a waiver for the school to fail to provide 180 days of school. I see that as unlikely.

https://www.doe.mass.edu/lawsregs/603cmr27.html?section=all

No matter how long this goes on from here, the kids have already lost.

Update: they took away February vacation first. April vacation probably comes next.

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.

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They can't cancel the rest of the school year, but tonight there is a meeting about whether or not to cancel April vacation week. And they've already "used" their snow days becuase of the strike. That's takes care of 10 days, which is where we are. Hopefully, they don't have to extend the school year too much further. But I guess we'll see....

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So Im no expert on this but from the optics it seems like (without putting value judgement on them)

1. The teachers want more money and other considerations.
2. The town does not have the money without raising taxes, requring a town vote.

If both of these statements are true then I do not see how a resolution can be made in the short term.

The teachers union is asking for somthing that is not feasable (at least temporarly), and the town would not be able to provide it anyway.

I am sure it is more complex and I am missing important facts, but from the optics this is what I see.

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The teachers are betting that the voters would rather pass another override and/or the town will make cuts elsewhere and leave the schools unscathed.

The town officials think a tax override isn't a sure thing and don't want to make cuts anywhere so they are trying to hold the line.

I don't think you can say Newton voters or officials hate teachers. The town and teachers both have good reasons to justify their stance.

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So how about agree to the Union requests only if they are tied directly to the override. That puts the burden back on the people to support or not, the increase in school funding.

Assuming all money allocated in the budget is spent efficiently it seems slanted for the Union to try and force the town to decreasing funding for other allocated projects just to meet their demainds.

The pie is only so big. To satisfy the Union requests the pie needs to be bigger and they need to convince the majority of voters that what they are asking for is worth it.

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Using conditional funds is considered bargaining in bad faith.

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I dont know the law, but I would not call what the Union is doing barganining in good faith.

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Making it illegal to strike is unconstitutional. Newton is full of selfish people that think they can just threaten people to work under any condition.

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"Making it illegal to strike is unconstitutional."

Uhh, no. And no legal scholars say it is.

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Racking up Ls in this thread like the Detroit Pistons

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Really? because wages and union membership are both up.

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There was really no reason to build a leaky overpriced " "new" school in 1974. The old buildings were solid as a rock. They just wanted to show off. And that 1974 building has already failed. newton's whole school system is poorly run, and expensive decisions are made for all the wrong reasons.
Signed, Scollay Square, Newton High, Class of 73

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… is that they absolutely had to build a new high school by about 1999 (and got around to it a decade later). They somehow built a building which lasted 33 years but had failed within 20. It was amazing as a student there the number of days we didn't have heat, or had water dripping from the ceilings. The 1970s architecture was not kind to … anyone. (There should be a documentary about the 1974 Newton North building.)

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At what point does the judge increase the $50,000 daily fine to something much higher? $50k works out to less than $5 per student. A $1,000,000/day fine would be more appropriate.

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Many people moved here decades ago. While their houses have appreciated to multiple times what they paid, their incomes haven't. Many are older retired people on fixed incomes. There are parts of Newton that are more blue collar or mixed (Nonantum, for example, plus isolated streets).

While Newton isn't as economically diverse as it was when I moved here 3 decades ago, I know I couldn't afford to move here now. I live on a street that is mostly multi-unit homes, many having rental apartments as part of them.

That expensive high school, btw, is part of why people are override-averse. When it was passed, no one expected the high school to end up so outrageously expensive and damaging to the city budgets. I voted for the latest override even though I've never had a kid in the schools, but it's important to note that it was one of two overrides on the ballot that year. The one that went to replacing school buildings that were ancient and falling apart. For legal reasons, the two types of money had to be divided into two overrides; the majority of the city voted to raise their taxes, just not 2 overrides worth.

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Watch out for all those hypodermic needles on the ground around the trash can fires when walking past $3M two family houses in the Lake.

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@John Costello - Yes, there are some very rich people in Newton. What you and others don't understand is that this isn't true of everyone.

We have public housing in Newton, much but not all for seniors. Our food banks are kept busy. Both during the pandemic and during this strike, the city has provided free pick-up breakfasts and lunches for kids who rely on free school meals.

I have several co-workers who live in Newton, none of whom are doctors or lawyers or financiers. Do we earn decent livings? Yes, but not anywhere near the range most people on UHub seem to expect is the norm for Newtonites. Some of us are single parents. My kid needed generous need-based financial aid to go to college.

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So even if you have beginning teachers still getting your degree, do you really want them getting paid the same as fast food workers? I've worked as a teacher in some of the less wealthy cities in Mass (Lynn, Lowell) and they both paid higher than this and that was over 10 years ago. Also didn't the mayor just give a raise to the police and firefighters? Ridiculous to up their it when the people really keeping kids safe are paid crap.

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I grew up in Newton during the 80s and watched prop 2.5 but the school system. A wealthy community whose elementary schools had 30-33 kids per class, bathrooms without working stall doors and anemic arts programs.

My parents are now elderly and retired in their 80s - but they voted for the prop rollback, The people building McMansions in lower falls or buying $7 TikTok famous croissants said nope and drove home in their Tesla SUVs

I think the mayor sort of sucks but the people elected her and the people of Newton think school is overpriced day care when it comes to raising taxes, say the teachers are mediocre and send their kids to Kumon or Russian Math because they would rather pay $1500 a year to a private company then see their taxes raised for 1 year to hire better teachers, have better facilities and let everyone, not just their own kids benefit.

Newton May act liberal but a lot of it is Florida with foliage.

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One of the teachers stuck another teacher in their car at the rally. Sounds like a police rally.

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Source?

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Too right winger for you since that’s what you always assume about me

https://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2024/02/01/teacher-struck-by-car-...

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I was interested and when it comes to fraught things like this, this is how rumors start.

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I admittedly dont know the polling on how that vote went.

But historically elderly, fixed income, homeowners with no vested interest in the purpose for an override overwhelming come out against it.
Totally understandable.

So all this talk about the wealthy not voting for the override or the Newton voters in general not supporting their schools/ teachers might me way off the mark.

Love to hear from someone that can comment on the vote demographic, etc.

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