February 12, 2018 05:38 AM
Negotiations continue in an effort to avert a teachers' strike set for Tuesday in the St. Paul School District.
The St. Paul Federation of Teachers says talks were underway Sunday and will continue Monday, if necessary. But the union says teachers are ready to hit the picket lines Tuesday morning if there's no agreement by then. The district has about 3,200 teachers and nearly 37,000 students.
The district seeks to hold new spending for teachers to just over $2 million annually. The union's wide-ranging proposals for improving learning conditions, including smaller classes and increased staffing, would cost $159 million over two years.
The union has proposed pay increases of 2.5 percent this year and next, while the district offered 1 percent.
Parents, meanwhile, have been meeting and sharing information on social media as they try to prepare for uncertainty throughout the various levels of the school district.
Highland Park parent Kitty Earl-Torniainen said she has one word to sum up her feelings with a Tuesday strike inching closer: "Stress."
"There is a lot of tension. You want to support the teachers and you want to do right for them, but you also can't see a solution," Earl-Torniainen said. "I mean, I don't know what the solution is and I do not know how we are going to get there."
Emily Leabch and her husband have the same worry times three, with three children currently enrolled in the St. Paul School District, one of whom is a senior at Highland Park High School.
"I have a lot of questions and concerns for the seniors, especially if the strike goes beyond four days. Because this time of year is very critical for them as they are applying and getting accepted to schools, need updated transcripts, and even teacher recommendations," Leabch said. "And right now, the district has not really given me any solid answers to some of these important questions."
Parent Peter Nikolai joined teachers at a picket line-style rally outside St. Paul School District Headquarters at 360 Colborne Street, where he expressed strong support for their efforts.
"No one likes a strike and they are kind of scary," Nikolai said. "But I think that it is worth it to me if we can get better funding for the schools and smaller class sizes as well."
St. Paul teachers last went on strike in 1946.
Jay Kolls contributed to this report.
The Associated Press
Updated: February 12, 2018 05:38 AM
Created: February 11, 2018 04:02 PM
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