District puts forth ‘final offer’ for Minneapolis Public Schools support staff

Minneapolis teachers were back picketing Sunday outside the Minneapolis Public Schools headquarters as the district announced what it called a “last, best and final offer” for education support professionals.

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Sunday marked Day 13 of the ongoing strike, and classes are already canceled on Monday, the 10th day of lost instruction time since the strike began on March 8.

The school district says it is proposing salary increases and bonuses that would cost $9.3 million after one year and $13.4 million after two years. In a video update Sunday, MPS Board Chair Kim Ellison said the pay raises would put the district “beyond what we have in resources” and would necessitate budget cuts in the future.

Under the offer, 85% of full-time education support professionals would be making at least $23 an hour and bring the hourly wage for the lowest-paid support staff from $15.45 to $18 per hour, the district said. Additionally, all ESPs would receive $6,000 in bonuses over the next two years.

“We believe this contract both meets what they’ve asked for and demonstrates a measure of the respect they deserve,” Ellison said. “We are asking them to accept this offer today, and if not, to join us in arbitration so that we can get a deal on this current contract.”

The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and Education Support professionals provided the following statement in response to the district’s offer Sunday:

“While we appreciate MPS getting to where they are, we know they can get to $35,000 for ESP. It won’t take much more on their part to settle this strike and get our students and educators back to school. We believe we can get this done. We need the school board to do better by those who have waited so long for this needed correction. We also know MPS can do better to recruit and retain educators of color, reduce class sizes, add mental health supports, and create stability for our students by proposing competitive pay for licensed staff. Our members are ready to hold the line until we get there.”