Mediation Update (2/9)

The bargaining teams met between 9:00am and 5:00pm today and traded proposals.

We finally saw movement around restorative practices. While we do not have a finalized, agreed-upon plan, we made significant positive movement.

We presented counter proposals around parental leave and modified our proposals around 403(b) for all three bargaining units. We also provided counter proposals to provide substitutes for EAs, and guarantee SCSPs additional time for cultural and religious observance.

At this point in negotiations, both teams have started packaging proposals together, offering to trade agreement on one proposal for dropping other proposals. For example, the district offered to drop the proposal that would make it easier to place teachers on improvements plans if we dropped our proposals around increasing access to Pre-K and full service community schools. We are working on a counter proposal to this package and conversations will continue tomorrow. In another package deal, we offered to drop proposals about professional development and SCSP paperwork days in exchange for union business leave language, though the district has yet to agree to this.

It felt like we were making good progress until the district shared their final round of responses right before we were scheduled to end. At that point, they suggested that staffing issues in Saint Paul would be fixed if we cut services to some of our neediest EL students.

In order to address EL class sizes that are too large, the district proposed cutting the number of classes that our English Learners receive from trained EL teachers. In fact, the district said that a newcomer student who had been in US schools for one year could have classes taught by regular education teachers with no EL support as long as those teachers had received four days of professional development.

In terms of staffing supports for Special Education, the proposal put together by our teachers and Educational Assistants considers individual students’ needs (medical, communication, behavior, sensory, etc.) when determining how much support students’ receive. The district’s response was that they intend to only consider students’ academic needs for staffing.

The district also agreed to expand substitutes for EAs if the money came out of the EA 1% wage increase. We did not agree to this because we believe that our EAs, some of the lowest paid workers in the district, are extremely valuable members of our school community, and the work they do with children and families is critical.

We still have not talked about wages.

We are negotiating tomorrow with the district. We will continue to send out updates to members’ personal email addresses.