NEWTON, MASS. (WHDH) - Newton teachers will begin a strike on Friday after negotiations for a new contract failed to produce an agreement.

Newton Teachers Association President Mike Zilles announced the strike Thursday evening, saying 98% of union members voted to authorize such action.

Newton city officials soon said schools will be closed indefinitely, with all school-related events and activities postponed until after the strike ends.

Flanked by union members holding signs, Zilles criticized Mayor Ruthanne Fuller outside City Hall. Among comments, Zilles called on the mayor to “fund the schools.”

“The membership of the Newton Teachers Association is standing up for the citizens, for the students and the educators of Newton and we are saying ‘Mayor Fuller, enough is enough,'” Zilles said.

WATCH: Newton Teachers Association President Mike Zilles speaks after vote to authorize strike

Fuller spoke at the Newton Education Center moments after Zilles’ announcement, saying “This is a sad day here in Newton.”

“The adults belong at the negotiating table,” Fuller said. “The students belong in the classroom.”

WATCH: Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller speaks after teacher’s union votes to go on strike

Though strikes are illegal among public employees in Massachusetts, several teachers unions around the state have still taken to the picket line in recent years, with strikes moving forward in communities including Brookline, Malden, Haverhill, Woburn and Andover.

Teachers unions that strike in defiance of state law can and have faced court orders and fines for their actions.

In Newton, Fuller and several other city leaders called on teachers to avert a strike in recent days. The Newton School Committee also filed a “strike petition” with the state Department of Labor Relations to request an investigation into a potential strike as word of a looming union vote spread.

As reaction poured in Thursday night, Newton Public Schools Superintendent Anna Nolin said she is “heartbroken that the failure of negotiations has led to this moment.”

Newton teachers have been working without a contract since their previous contract expired at the end of August.

Among demands, the Newton Teachers Association has asked for higher pay raises, parental leave for all educators and the hiring of more social workers to address student mental health.

Though negotiations have continued, the Newton Teachers Association in a recent statement said “we do not see any meaningful movement on the part of Mayor Fuller and the School Committee to come to a fair agreement with us.”

“They felt so disrespected, so abandoned, so left alone by the political leaders in this city that they knew they had no choice but to go out on strike,” Zilles said of teachers on Thursday.

Nolin, the schools superintendent, said there is a roughly $10 million gap between the latest contract offer and what the teachers are asking for.

Zilles claimed the city is sitting on $55 million it could tap into. But Fuller said that is not the case, telling reporters on Thursday “the one-time monies have already been allocated and put to use.”

While teachers make their case, both Fuller and School Committee Chair Chris Brezski have argued their offer is competitive compared to neighboring cities and towns.

“There will emerge no winners from this, only losers,” Brezski said following the teachers’ strike vote. “And our kids will lose the most.”

Newton’s public school system includes 22 schools and has a combined enrollment of more than 11,700, according to state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education data.

While the current strike continues, Nolin said the district will offer grab and go meals to families “similar to what we did during COVID.”

Nolin also promised further updates to families, saying she will notify families no later than 7:30 p.m. each night whether there will be school the next day.

Teachers as of Thursday night plan to picket outside every Newton school starting at 9 a.m. Friday before a rally at City Hall at 1 p.m.

There is also a mediation session scheduled for Friday between the Newton Teachers Association and the School Committee.

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