St. Paul School District sends layoff notices to non-essential staff members on day 2 of teacher strike

St. Paul teachers trike in downtown St. Paul Wednesday.

Teachers chanted and marched through downtown St. Paul Wednesday afternoon on day two of a strike.

The educators demanded St. Paul Public Schools Superintendent Joe Gothard and the district return to the bargaining table to hammer out a new two-year labor contract that includes additional, front-line mental health support in the schools, more multi-lingual staff and pay raises.

“There’s nothing more important, nothing more important than education,” said Paul Teske, a St. Paul Elementary School teacher. “That’s what we’re fighting for.”

“To our students, we want to say, we are sorry,” said Kevin Burns, a St. Paul District spokesperson. “You should be in the classroom.”

The district described the strike as unprecedented, leaving some 36,000 students at home while educators walk the picket lines.

The district confirmed Wednesday that it has sent out layoff notices to thousands of non-essential staff members, explaining that a prolonged strike could lead to a loss of revenue that would eventually force administrators to slash positions.

Some striking union members called the move a form of bullying.

“That does not mean people will be laid off,” said Burns. “We did not and will not single out any particular group of employees for these notices.”