Community Strike Q&A

Educators in Saint Paul will be taking a strike vote on February 20th. We’re fighting to create the schools St. Paul students deserve.

Download a PDF versions of the Q&A in English, Spanish, Somali, Hmong, and Karen here.

What are educators fighting for in contract negotiations?

Educators’ top priorities include:

  • A fully staffed mental health team in every building. This includes providing teachers with more training and hiring more social workers, counselors, psychologists, school nurses, and behavior intervention specialists.
  • More multilingual staff to help our students and families connect to their school community.
  • Additional educators supporting students with special needs and appropriate assignments for educators so they can give students more one-on-one attention.

These changes would improve the learning environment for all St. Paul students and allow educators to give children more individual attention. They will also improve working environments for educators — we want to attract and keep the best educators for St. Paul students.

Learn more about the proposals here.

Why are contract negotiations so contentious? Will there be a strike?

St. Paul educators understand contentious contract negotiations and a potential strike are stressful for all involved — especially working families and our most vulnerable students.

State law requires the district and unionized employees to bargain every two years. Negotiation began last May between SPFE and the district. The union presented 31 proposals in nine public sessions. SPFE filed for mediation in November because the district had not offered counter proposals to the union’s plans.

Strikes are scary for everybody and can have a financial impact on educators, too. But we are willing to make that sacrifice to make sure our students’ needs are met. We want our public schools to have the resources they need. Unfortunately, that’s not happening.

When would a strike begin?

Members authorized a strike, which is set to begin March 10 if educators can’t get the right commitments from the district.

If there is a strike, what does that mean for St. Paul students and families?

The school district will have to make a decision, but most likely they will close schools during the strike. Parens will need to find alternative options for their students.

We will have more information regarding child care, meal options, and other resources for families available on our website closer to the strike.

Will the district have to add extra school days if there is a strike?

Not necessarily. If the district falls below the minimum number of days middle and high school students need to be in school, the district could add days. However, there is no penalty under state law if the district doesn’t meet those requirements.

Didn’t the union endorse current members of the school board?

Yes, SPFE did endorse these board member. Unfortunately, it’s clear these negotiations are being controlled by Superintendent Joe Gothard, not the elected board. Communication to board members appears to be selective and limited. It’s time for the board to demand more information and get involved in negotiations.

How can parents, students, and community members get updates on negotiations?

Sign SPFE’s petition to get on our community allies list.

You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Use #WeAreSPPS and #WeAreSPFE on social media.

We’ll continue to post updates on our website and ways to support educators and families.