MALDEN, MASS. (WHDH) - Classes were canceled in Malden on Monday as teachers in the school district started their strike, picketing after contract negotiations stalled over the weekend.

Leading up to Monday, a nearly 12-hour bargaining session between teachers and the school committee ended at an impasse. Although the two sides made some compromises, union representatives said the school committee ultimately walked away from the negotiating table over teacher wages.

“We would have kept bargaining through the night if they were willing to continue bargaining,” said Deb Gesualdo, President of the Malden Education Association. “We were ready to start bargaining this morning, we’ve been ready throughout the day.”

By the start of Monday, staffers lined up outside the high school, calling for a new contract with the city. Negotiations ultimately resumed, before taking a brief break at 6 p.m. for a school committee meeting. Negotiations were slated to resume at 7 p.m., though teachers made it clear they will not be back in a classroom until a contract is agreed upon.

“Every person here wants to be inside the building, we want the kids to be here, they deserve the best education possible from the best educators,” said Doug Dias, the STEM director at Malden Public Schools.

“We need fully funded schools” said Rebecca Griffith of the Malden Education Association. “Right now, our schools are missing too many positions to run functionally, and that’s because people are not able to survive on the wages we are offering. I want to see our schools fully funded and fully supplied.”

Teachers said they know canceling school will cause problems for the 6,000 students in the district and their families, but they said better contracts mean better learning conditions. Better wages are a sticking point in negotiations, though staff said it is not just about them, adding that many positions in the district remain unfilled because the city will not pay more.

“Our schools, our towns can’t run without public school educators,” Griffith said. “We are educating our future, and we need to invest in our future. This isn’t just about teachers. This is about the students we educate more than anything.”

Both the city’s mayor and superintendent have chosen not to speak publicly since a Sunday statement before the strike, saying that the school committee had made a “competitive” and “unprecedent” salary and benefits offer.

Union leaders said they know teacher strikes are illegal in Massachusetts, but believe that some fights are worth breaking laws. They said they hope parents and children stuck home unexpectedly understand.

“I think there’s a conscious choice on behalf of the school district to have our students underserved and I think if people really knew that, they would feel really differently,” Gesualdo said.

Negotiations were expected to continue into the night Monday. As of 7 p.m., tentative plans for school on Tuesday have not yet been announced.

7NEWS has repeatedly reached out to the district for comment. Ron Cochran, the city’s communications director, directed us to a statement on the City of Malden website, stating that “updates on negotiations will be handled through the School Committee negotiating team and the School Committee as a whole.”

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