No deal reached, St. Paul educators strike and classes canceled

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Plans for the strike educators have set against St. Paul Public Schools are continuing Tuesday.

In a statement issued early Tuesday morning, members of the Saint Paul Federation of Educators Local 28 (SPFE) said that despite ongoing negotiations, a deal was not reached.

Monday night, the union turned down an arbitration offer that would avoid a strike, saying the district's latest proposal would slash support staff.

The move to strike comes after a dispute over contract negotiations. The bargaining team said its three main priorities are a fully-staffed mental health team in every building, more multilingual staff and additional educators supporting students with special needs.

"We wanted to settle this contract and be in school with our students Tuesday morning,” SPFE President Nick Faber said in a statement. “Unfortunately, after more than nine months and marathon bargaining over the weekend, district leaders weren’t willing to move on the issues educators and parents know will help students thrive and break down racial barriers in our schools.” 

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Negotiations began between SPFE and SPPS last year in May.

Nearly two-thirds of the roughly 3,550 SPFE members voted and of those who voted, 82% voted to strike, according to the SPFE.

The strike affects families of more than 36,000 students. The last time educators went on strike was in 1946.

The district has established "Kid Space" locations to provide activities and meals for students in kindergarten through fifth grade at no cost. More information and registration can be found here.

Breakfast and lunch will be available for students under 18. Students in sixth-12th grades will also be able to keep their iPads to work on schoolwork at home. Varsity sports, for the most part, will continue.

SPPS Superintendent Joe Gothard said his team did everything they could to avoid a strike by teachers.

"Our focus remains on reaching an agreement that is fair to SPFE members, equitable to other SPPS unions and responsible to the taxpayers of St. Paul," Gothard said in a statement. "More than ever, our students and families will hold us accountable to nothing less."

Gothard said students need the support but that the district must prioritize spending. 

"I want to make it clear: I believe our students need and deserve additional support. That has never been in question. However, we must prioritize our spending because we have limited resources. We need to place new investments where they are needed most. This is what SPPS proposed as a responsible way to increase student support and remain accountable."