St. Paul Teachers' Contracts Ratified by Overwhelming Vote Tuesday

Updated: 03/04/2014 7:30 PM
Created: 03/04/2014 6:25 PM
By: Cassie Hart

Members of the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to ratify the tentative contract agreement reached less than two weeks ago with the city’s public school district.

Teachers voted throughout the day Tuesday at their schools. SPFT President Mary Cathryn Ricker said more than 95 percent of those voting supported the agreement.

“This agreement is a significant step forward, not only because of its specific provisions that will help us advance toward the schools our students deserve,” Ricker said, “but also because of the collaboration with parents, families and other community partners that helped set the priorities that guided our negotiations. Together, we are reclaiming the promise of public education for all St. Paul students.”

She said teachers sought to make the community’s voice heard at the bargaining table by joining with parents and others even before talks began last year. She said they also identified issues and proposals aimed at improving access and equity in St. Paul schools.

Key provisions highlighted include:

  • New more consistent and transparent limits on class sizes, including lower limits for the 30 schools in the district with the highest poverty levels
  • A commitment from the school board to add the equivalent of 42 new professional staff positions, including licensed media specialists, nurses, elementary counselors and school social workers
  • Maintain and expand the Saint Paul Public Schools’ high-quality, pre-K program for 4-year-olds
  • A 25 percent reduction in learning time diverted to standardized testing and test preparation
  • Expansion of the Parent Teacher Home Visit initiative and a pilot project establishing Parent-Teacher Academic Teams
  • A new procedure that will allow teachers to initiate school redesign plans allowing flexibility at individual schools

Under the agreement, teachers will receive the normal adjustments built into the salary schedule for experience and education levels. In addition, teachers’ compensation will go up an average of 2.5 percent in the first year of the contract and 2 percent in the second year. The agreement covers the current school year and the 2014-15 term.

The agreement also includes more support for new teachers, including more time for coaching and collaboration with veteran educators. It also will give parents a role on school behavior teams and provides for more consistent support of teachers confronting student behavior issues, according to a release from Education Minnesota.

The Saint Paul Public Schools Board of Education still needs to vote on adopting the agreement. That is expected to happen at its March 18 meeting.

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