A teacher strike is underway at St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS) after mediation between the district and the St. Paul Federation of Educators (SPFE) ended without agreement.
Bargaining lasted until 3 a.m. Tuesday, but without a new two-year contract agreement, teachers will be on picket lines at schools throughout the district and approximately 36,000 students – the second largest school district in Minnesota – will not have school until a new contract is reached.
For students and families, St. Paul Public Schools is offering free breakfast and lunch to anyone under the age of 18 beginning immediately. Meals will be offered at 24 school sites, with breakfast served 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. These are the 24 meal sites:
- Barack and Michelle Obama Elementary
- Battle Creek Middle
- Bruce F. Vento Elementary
- Chelsea Heights Elementary
- Cherokee Heights Elementary
- Crossroads Elementary
- Dayton's Bluff Achievement Plus
- Four Seasons Arts+
- Frost Lake Elementary
- Galtier Community School
- Global Arts Plus Lower Campus
- Harding Senior High
- Hazel Park Preparatory Academy
- Highland Park Elementary
- Highwood Hills Elementary
- Horace Mann Elementary
- Jackson Elementary
- Jie Ming Mandarin Immersion
- Johnson Senior High
- L'Etoile du Nord French Immersion - Lower Campus
- Mississippi Creative Arts
- Riverview West Side School of Excellence
- Rondo Education Center
- Washington Technology Magnet School
Beginning Thursday, the district will offer Kid Space at no cost, which provides safe, supervised activities and meals for students ages K through 5th grade. This will be offered at seven sites and be staffed by staff that doesn't participate in the strike. There will not be a nurse or any health care staff at Kid Space sites. More info here.
The failed negotiations began in May 2019 and reached a deadline Tuesday. The teacher union's demands include salary increases, a fully staffed mental health team in every school, and increased special education and multilingual staff.
"We could settle this tonight, avert a strike and be back with our students tomorrow," said Erica Schatzlein, vice president of the SPFE, on Tuesday. "We know that's a possibility and we're hoping that's the outcome. If not, we will walk the line tomorrow for our kids."
“Our focus remains on reaching an agreement that is fair to SPFE members, equitable to other SPPS unions and responsible to the taxpayers of Saint Paul,” said SPPS Superintendent Dr. Joe Gothard. “More than ever, our students and families will hold us accountable to nothing less.”
It is unclear when negotiations will resume, nor is it clear how missed school days will impact students in the long run. The district previously said it's possible that the school year could be extended to make up for lost days in the event of a strike.
The strike also means all after-school activities are canceled, although varsity sports and Minnesota State High School League activities will continue.