Minneapolis School Board approves ratified contracts for teachers, support staff

Minneapolis School Board approves ratified contracts for teachers, support staff

Minneapolis School Board approves ratified contracts for teachers, support staff

The Minneapolis School Board approved new contracts for district teachers and education support professionals at Tuesday’s meeting. The decision came just days after union members ratified the deal.

Details of that agreement — which was approved after multiple days of voting last week — show teachers will be getting a 4% raise the first year and a 5% increase the second year. Teachers also gained an hourly flat rate increase from $25 to $30 an hour.

Union members say this is the highest raise they’ve seen in more than 25 years.

“This is the highest pay increase that I’ve ever observed,” said Marcia Howard, the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers president-elect. “It’s signaling something new is happening in Minneapolis.”

RELATED: Tentative agreement reached between MPS, teachers; education support professionals still holding strike authorization vote

Meanwhile, the new contract for education support professionals will include a “large pay increase” in addition to steps, which the union says is a guaranteed incentive for educators to stay within the district. The contract includes an incremental salary cost of living adjustment totaling 10% by 2025.

According to the union, both teachers and support staff have been working for more than 300 days on an expired contract. The MFT’s teacher chapter credits a change in leadership as a factor in successful negotiations. Superintendent Lisa Sayles-Adams started earlier this year.

“There were many, many hours spent by negotiators on both sides,” Sayles-Adams said during Tuesday’s meeting.

The vote to approve the contracts comes as the district works to balance its budget. MPS faces a minimum $110 million deficit due to the end of COVID-19 emergency funding, a decrease in revenue due to declining enrollment, and escalating costs, according to the district.

RELATED: Minneapolis education support professionals reach tentative deal a day after filing strike notice

The budget is expected to be finalized in the coming weeks.

“Part of the remaining work has been to finalize the costs of the recently settled collective bargaining agreements as well as to make estimates on a few outstanding ones,” Sayles-Adams said.

According to the district and union, the agreement between the MFT teacher chapter at MPS was within board-approved budget parameters.

“Whatever challenges they face in the future, just know that giving teachers what we deserve as professional educators isn’t a tipping point for the district,” Howard said.

RELATED: Education support professionals authorize strike amid ‘historic’ deal between MPS, MFT

The district is considering adjusting staffing, including layoffs, as one cost-saving measure.

Greta Callahan, the MFT teacher chapter president, said that shouldn’t be their members.

“We know cuts can come from other places,” she said. “We do anticipate a lot of cuts to that very thick layer between us and the superintendent.”

Howard added, “We are still chronically understaffed and the way they transform this district should start at the top. We are a top-heavy district.”

According to a district spokesperson, MPS is also considering using at least $55 million from the assigned fund balance and advocating for state and federal funding.

Sayles-Adams wasn’t available for an interview on Tuesday. In a statement from April the district shared, she said, “This tentative agreement took our teams many hours of work, but we’re excited about what we’ve accomplished together. We believe the agreement honors the excellent work and dedication of our teachers and licensed educators while keeping students at the center.”