St. Paul, Minnesota, March 16, 2022 — St. Paul educators overwhelmingly ratified a new contract on Wednesday, just one week after a strike was averted.
Members of the Saint Paul Federation of Educators voted in their buildings the past two days and the executive board certified the results Wednesday. The contract now goes to the school board for its approval.
The tentative agreement includes improvements to class size language and caps, increased mental health supports, guaranteed recess time for students, one-time recognition payments to all educators for their hard work over the past two years and increased educator compensation, particularly for educational assistants who are often the lowest paid employees in the district.
“Now, more than ever, our students need more support. Not less. This contract is proof that educators and district leaders can come together to give students the resources they need and educators the recognition they deserve,” said SPFE President Leah VanDassor.
“Our work is not done. Decades of chronic underfunding make it more and more difficult to build public schools where all students can thrive and succeed. We look forward to working with district leaders to advocate for more state funding to build on these improvements and continue to make Saint Paul Public Schools a district we can be proud of.”
Highlights of the contract include:
- Class size caps are lowered by one student in grades 1-3 and 9. Class size averages and caps remain intact and in the contract for all other grades.
- $650,000 to hire six additional school psychologists. Mental health support teams at each school are still guaranteed in the contract.
- All educators will receive $3,000 one-time recognition payment for pandemic work if they worked in the district in the past two school years.
- Educational assistants receive an average 13.5 percent wage increase.
- By the end of the contract, the starting hourly rate for EAs will be at $18.82, up from $15.94.
- The median compensation for EAs will be at $49,664 by the end of the contract, up from $42,064.
- St. Paul teachers and school and community service professionals get a 2 percent annual salary increase over the next two years. Summer school and loss of preparation compensation also increased.
- Weighted caseloads for some special education teachers to be piloted starting next school year. That means the district will look at the complexity of students’ needs when assigning them to teachers so workloads are more manageable and students receive more individualized attention.
- Guaranteed recess time remains intact.
A strike date was set for March 8 after more than 78 percent of SPFE members who turned out to vote authorized a strike. Negotiations began last May between SPFE and the district, which are required by state law to bargain a new contract every two years.