St. Paul Public Schools prepares as union sets potential strike date

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St. Paul teachers are ready to strike starting March 10, but the district is hoping to mediate with the union in order to avoid that.

On Wednesday morning, union members picketed around the city, and the school district started talking about what will happen if there's a strike.

"We realize the threat of a strike offers uncertainty for our families and students," said St. Paul Public Schools Chief Operations Officer Jackie Turner.

Childcare is a significant concern for families with young students who are generally at school during the day.

"We will be opening several of our elementary schools for K-5 students, each day from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. there will be safe and age-appropriate programming taking place at these locations," said Turner.

Date set for upcoming strike against SPPS

Transportation would be provided, Turner said, along with breakfast and lunch at several locations. For those in grades 6-12, online programming would be provided with district-issued iPads. Turner said varsity athletics and other Minnesota State High School League activities would continue.

"I cannot be more clear in stating my disappointment that it has come to this," said Superintendent Dr. Joe Gothard.

The St. Paul Federation of Educators Local 28 (SPFE) held signs displaying their frustration on a bridge over Interstate 94 in St. Paul, outside of Benjamin E. Mays school on Wednesday.

The union wants a fully-staffed mental health team in every building, more bilingual staff and more focus on students with special needs.

"Teachers, in general, are very frustrated their voices aren't being heard, they know what their students need in order to succeed and they're not being listened to," said Nick Faber, President of SPFE.

The two sides have offered up 47 total proposals since last May, and they've now got just days to make something stick, or strike.

The union has not gone on strike since 1946. The two sides will be back at the bargaining table on Friday, and both sides are hopeful talks will be productive.

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