Friday will mark the fourth consecutive day without classes in St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS), but schools are set to resume normal operations on Monday after a tentative agreement was reached to end the teacher strike.
“We are glad to reach an agreement with our educators,” said SPPS Superintendent Dr. Joe Gothard. “Through hours of compromise and a laser focus on placing students above all else, we have a new two-year agreement that targets resources to areas of greatest need.”
Details of the agreement have not been released, but striking members of the St. Paul Federation of Educators (SPFE) have been notified to go back to work at 1 p.m. Friday.
The mounting threat of the novel coronavirus pandemic played a role in ending the contract dispute, according to the SPFE.
"Only an unprecedented pandemic and concern over the health and safety of our students and staff stopped St. Paul educators from fighting harder and longer for more resources for our children," said SPFE President Nick Faber. "Still, this strike demonstrated the power educators have when they use their collective voice.
"Unfortunately, district leaders decided to play politics with a national health crisis by digging in at the bargaining table. They decided to put their own pride before the health and wellness of St. Paul students and educators," Faber added.
The agreement is pending a ratification vote by the SPFE that will be held at a later date.
With no school again Friday, free breakfast and lunch will be offered again at numerous district sites, and Kid Space is again available Friday.
Details of the compromise proposal are not being released by SPPS, but SPFE says the deal includes:
- More social workers, nurses, intervention specialists, psychologists, multilingual staff.
- More manageable workloads and increased one-on-one time with special needs students.
- Wage increases.
- Create a base of substitute teachers, which are commonly hard to find.
- Prep time for educational assistants who are interpreters.
- Agreement to call for a moratorium on new charter schools.
- Expanding restorative practices to help end the school-to-prison pipeline.
"This fight is the right one; we all know we can and must do better for our children," said St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter. "While the gains won this week will make our district stronger, significant work remains to win the state and federal funding necessary to provide the level of support our children deserve."