ISD 191 students impacted as teachers work without contract

As teachers in Arizona and other states across the country strike against low pay and reduced public school funding, a quieter battle brews in the Twin Cities metro with teachers in ISD 191 working almost a full year without a contract. The school district serves the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage area.

“This is not about the money,” said Wendy Drugge, the president of the Burnsville Education Association. “That’s not why we are not settled right now. This is about making sure we have language that’s fair and transparent for teachers and that’s exactly what we’ve offered the district.”

Drugge says the union and the district are at odds over the unrequested leaves of absence or ULA policy. Until now, state law required districts only to consider seniority during layoffs when faced with budget cuts or low enrollment.

“They would like to integrate some of the discipline issues into the ULA policy and the ULA policy is meant to address only laying off teachers in times of too many teachers for too little students,” said Drugge.

“I don’t want the teachers to go on strike I know my son loves his teacher,” said Kelly Fritz, a parent of two students in the district.

Both of her children are impacted by the contract negotiations and the recent decision for teachers to implement the work to rule strategy.

“They’re only holding band and choir concerts during the day, so I have to take four hours of PTO in order to attend my child’s first elementary school concert since he’s in kindergarten,” said Fritz.

Fritz does not blame her children’s teachers for only working within the eight-hour time period, but it's making life more challenging at home, especially when her high school daughter is trying to pass advanced placement tests.

“Even if she emails him later—he’s not allowed to email her back because he’s following his contract,” said Fritz.

Negotiators for the district and the teachers are scheduled to meet Wednesday and then the following Monday.

School district officials declined to speak with Fox 9.