Minneapolis teachers return to class Monday, prepare for students

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Monday is the first day back in the classroom for teachers in Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS).

Students will return Tuesday after the union voted to approve new contracts over the weekend.

RELATED: Minneapolis Public Schools and Minneapolis Federation of Teachers agree on contract, classes to resume Tuesday

Teachers say it has been emotional and stressful since going on strike March 8, and even though there’s now an official agreement between the district and the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT), some educators 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS spoke with still feel like the contract fell short.

“I have to believe the negotiating team did the best that they could, but I also don’t think a cap size of 28 students is fair for my students and my families. I’ve never had that many students, and to me, this is a really important issue,” said MPS teacher Brianna Jensen.

More than 2,000 union members came out to vote on the contract, which landed an official agreement between MFT and MPS.

According to MFT leaders, the deal includes a “significant number” of education support professionals – also known as ESPs – being able to make $35,000 a year, and also includes a bonus of at least $6,000 paid out over two years.

The agreement will also increase mental health support throughout the district, and put a cap on class sizes in writing, according to the union. They add other licensed staff will get a pay increase and bonuses as well.

The union says while they didn’t get everything they were fighting for, their team feels stronger than ever.

“We are more united than ever. We are more powerful than ever. And that is something that is priceless,” said Greta Callahan, president of the MFT. “We have decided collectively to leave an abusive relationship with this district, we have shifted the power dynamic.”

Meanwhile, the school district issued the following statement after teachers ratified the contract:

“Nothing is more important to the MPS community right now than returning our students to their classrooms. We are pleased to confirm Tuesday, March 29 for their return.”

Ed Graff, Superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools

Due to the amount of time out of the classroom, district officials say time will have to be made up, saying their plans include stretching the school year out to Friday, June 24, but also add 42 minutes of class time each day after spring break. Students return from that break Monday, April 11.

In addition, the district says students will also now attend school this Friday, which was previously a teacher record-keeping day. That day will now be moved to Saturday, April 23. Consequently, the district says it is also changing the end date for the third quarter and start date for the fourth quarter.