SPPS parents share concerns over potential teacher strike

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The St. Paul Federation of Educators has voted to authorize a strike against St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS). If it does happen, all classes would be canceled.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS asked parents and grandparents of students who attend St. Anthony Park Elementary School their thoughts on the potential strike.

Grandparent David Herron said, "It's going to hurt the kids more than it's going to hurt anybody, and both parties need to remember that."

The district and union wouldn't respond to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS' questions about what would be put in place for students who rely on free or reduced meals, as well as questions about child care and students who are homeless or highly mobile. 

Bryn Manion, parent of a student at St. Anthony Park Elementary School and also on the St. Anthony Park School Association, said: 

"Well we are concerned about breakfast, St. Paul provides free breakfast for all students and lunch and snacks for our kids who are… in school… so my hope personally as a parent would be that [they] are able to come to an agreement to do what they do over the summer, which is to go and provide nutritional services via the rec centers and some of their mobile trucks."

Parents expressed concerns over childcare as well. 

St. Paul educators vote to authorize strike

"All of us depend on our kids being there so we can go to work, and that is the big, black hole right here right now is what will happen, and will we have to sacrifice our summer days or our vacation days, how are we going to make the quota for our kids' hours and make it work for everybody," Manion said.

Parents also expressed worry about students who are homeless or highly mobile. 

"I can’t begin to fathom how difficult that is for students and families who are in that position, and we can as a city accommodate those families… I mean all of the pressure comes back to please get to an agreement. What the teachers union is asking for is really reasonable I think to me anyway and if it has to go to a strike, I mean gosh, we hope it doesn't happen, but I also hope that the city can come to terms with the union's ask before it gets dire."

The union is pushing for more multilingual staff to help students and families, more teachers to work with students with special needs and a fully staffed mental health team in every building.

Nick Faber, President of the St. Paul Federation of Educators said, "so that our students when they're dealing with trauma and so forth in their classroom… they can get the help they need."

Faber added, "Our teachers don't want to leave their classroom and they don't want to leave their students but teachers in St. Paul are like teachers across the country right now, they're frustrated with not being heard."

St. Paul Public Schools superintendent said in a statement Thursday night that the district is underfunded from the state more than 80 million dollars, enrollment is down and it's offering wage increases in each of the two years in a new contract, adding, in part: "We are extremely disappointed our educators continue down a path toward a strike."