St. Paul school teachers are heading for a strike

Unless a deal is reached, teachers will strike on Tuesday.
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What's happening?

The executive board of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers has officially called a strike for next week.

They made the announcement on Wednesday evening after a day of negotiations with St. Paul Public Schools yielded no agreement.

Unless one is struck in the coming days, teachers will strike on Tuesday, Feb. 13.

Why are they striking?

Members voted to strike last week because of a lack of progress at the bargaining table "on the most important issues for SPFT's members," KSTP reports.

"The district is unwilling to fund programs they agree our students need, including adequate supports for our English Learners and students in special education programs, and the ability for students to access Restorative Practices," the union said in its Wednesday press release.

You can find a full list of what they're negotiating here. It includes smaller class sizes, a focus on "teaching not testing," and improvements to teacher pay, benefits and paid parental leave.

But as MinnPost reports, the new leadership board at St. Paul Public Schools has been adamant that employee contract pay would be limited to 1 percent.

The district has been at pains to stress it's operating under tight finances, but union members want a 2.5 percent raise and object to district plans to increase class sizes at 29 schools.

St. Paul teachers are already the highest paid in the state, with an average salary of $76,000, MinnPost notes.

What would happen if they strike?

The union represents 3,700 teachers, education assistants and support staff, and St. Paul Public Schools says a strike would have a significant knock-on effect for parents this coming Tuesday.

All Early Childhood Special Education and PreK-12 classes will be canceled, as will all after-school activities and athletics.

Youth Community Eduecation and Early Childhood Family Education classes would also be canceled.

Free breakfasts and hot school lunches would not be served and classes for K-12 students might have to extend into the summer "to make up for lost instructional time."

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