St. Paul teachers reach tentative agreement with district, avoid strike

Well into Monday night an announcement from the St. Paul Federation of Educators said they had reached a tentative agreement with the St. Paul Public Schools district, avoiding a strike with only hours remaining.

The announcement came a little less than three hours after the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers said it intends to strike beginning tomorrow morning.

According to an announcement from SPFE, the tentative agreement includes keeping class size language and caps, increased mental health supports, guaranteed recess time for students, one-time recognition payments to educators for their hard work over the past two years and increased compensation, particularly for educational assistants. The contract would be in place for two years. 

"This agreement could have been reached much earlier. It shouldn’t have taken a strike vote, but we got there," said SPFE President Leah VanDassor in a statement. "Educators and parents knew the last thing our students needed were larger class sizes, fewer supports and more educators leaving the profession. We were able to settle a contract that invests in our students and recognizes the hard work of St. Paul educators, especially our educational assistants." 

Twin Cities teachers previously rallied in support of the potential strike votes. (FOX 9)

The next step is for SPFE membership to decide whether it will accept the tentative agreement. A ratification vote will be scheduled at a later date.

Both Minneapolis and St. Paul district teachers have essentially stated similar demands: better pay and working conditions for teachers and support staff, smaller class sizes, and further mental health support for students. Chants of "MFT" broke out in support of Minneapolis teachers who continue negotiations. 

Similarly, both districts have said they agree the demands are warranted, but don’t have the money to pay for them – American Rescue Plan funds were one-time payments that likely won’t come again, and each district claims to be harboring an annual budget deficit.

Last week both districts informed parents of their varying childcare options in the event of a strike. 

In St. Paul classes will resume as scheduled tomorrow, according to a district announcement.