RELEASE: Saint Paul Federation of Teachers Plans Safe Sites for Students in Case of Strike


Contact: Patrick Burke, 940-206-4746,


Saint Paul Federation of Teachers Plans Safe Sites for Students in Case of Strike

Union Members Will Assist Kids Who Rely on Schools for Meals, Safety, Special Needs


SAINT PAUL, MINN. (February 6, 2018) —With the possibility of interruptions in the public school schedule due to a strike, members of the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers (SPFT) are taking steps to make sure that all children have a safe and appropriate alternative if schools are closed.

The teachers union and Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) are in ongoing contract talks. Last week SPFT members voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if a settlement is not reached. School district officials have said classes would be canceled if teachers and paraprofessionals strike.

“Teachers and parents are concerned about our most-vulnerable students,” said Nick Faber, President of SPFT. “Many children rely on their schools for breakfast and lunch, so we want to be sure that they have warm and safe places to go if schools close.”

Michelle Keleny, the lead social worker for the school district and an SPFT member, is leading the SPFT committee to set up Student Safe Sites. These sites would serve children in the event schools are not available. Over 20 committee members met this past weekend to begin planning for these sites.

“Our staff know the needs of our students,” Keleny said. “Our bottom line is our students. We are doing this to make sure their needs are met every day. This week, with the impending strike, that means ensuring that children who depend on their school for meals, safety, and other needs have a place to go if schools are not available.”

Keleny said members of the committee are tapping into resources across the community to support operation of the Safe Sites. “Staffing is the easy part,” she said, “with so many SPFT members ready to volunteer.”

This committee is arranging food for children who will attend each site, identifying locations, and establishing a staffing schedule for SPFT volunteers. The committee is also working with SPFT members and allies who will help provide transportation for children who need it.

“We hope that we will reach an agreement with the district, so that schools remain open,” said SPFT President Faber, adding that the union’s executive board has not yet set a strike date. “As we have said repeatedly, we will do whatever we can to prevent a strike. However, we also won’t stop fighting for what we know our students need.”

Mediation between SPFT and SPPS continues every day this week.

Those interested in donating to the Safe Sites should send an email to