Mediation Update (2/8)

We made progress at the bargaining table and have tentative agreements on our proposals around tiered licensure, recruiting and retaining teachers of color, guaranteeing at least 20 minutes of recess each day, elementary specialists, sharing special education IEPs with EAs who work with students, and protecting teachers’ rights to tell families they may refuse standardized testing. With one exception, these are cost neutral proposals.

The district is still declining to free up funds to support our students’ needs. As of right now, they are unwilling to tap into their unallocated reserves or back a school funding referendum. Without agreements on class size, English Learner and special education supports, and restorative practices, we remain far apart on a settlement.

Here’s what we know:

  • Parents, students and educators agree: Class size matters. Students want to be in smaller classes where they get more individualized attention from educators to thrive and grow. Educators want smaller classes so they can build strong, positive relationships with students and families.
  • Our students enrolled in special education services and our English Learners need access to staff who can help them achieve their full potential. All of our students deserve to have the supports they need to flourish, especially our students who are uniquely vulnerable in the current political climate.  
  • Restorative Practices are transforming schools in Saint Paul. Instead of pushing students out of our schools, we are building communities which foster strong relationships and repair harm. Our district needs to continue this investment in shutting off the school to prison pipeline.   

We also believe cultivating and supporting educators who reflect the diversity of students. To this end, we are working on making sure our multilingual support staff who translate for families are fairly compensated. We are asking the district to expand time offered to our School and Community Service Professionals for religious observances. We’ve also proposed limiting the additional duties our EAs are asked to take on in lieu of their primary job responsibilities. EAs provide critical services to students, especially our English Learners and students with special needs, and our students deserve their full attention. However, the district is saying no to these proposals.

We have not yet talked about wages this week at the bargaining table, even though the press seems obsessed with that topic. Once again, the Superintendent and school board were not active in negotiations.

Negotiations will continue tomorrow, and we have offered to meet this weekend to work toward settlement.