FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Patrick Burke, 940-206-4746, firstname.lastname@example.org
Saint Paul Federation of Teachers Opens Negotiations with School District
Teachers Union Asks Saint Paul Public Schools to Stand with Our Students
SAINT PAUL, MINN., (September 28, 2017) – The Saint Paul Federation of Teachers (SPFT) held their first negotiations session with the school district at Benjamin E. Mays Elementary School this evening. SPFT brought a proposal to the bargaining table asking to collaborate with Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) to seek full funding for racially equitable schools in Saint Paul.
State funding for public education has declined by over $1000 per pupil since 2003, when adjusted for inflation. SPFT raised the point that this decline has occurred at the same time that Minnesota corporations are making huge profits.
Minnesota corporations have lobbied for and benefitted from a reduction in corporate taxes, loopholes in the tax code, and programs like tax increment finance districts, which benefit large developers. Additionally, laws exempt large hospitals and higher education institutions with significant net revenues and endowments from property taxes.
“We keep getting told that there is not enough money for our public schools, but the reality is our wealthy corporate neighbors in our city and our state have done very well,” said Nick Faber, President of SPFT. “We believe that tax avoidance by the wealthiest Minnesotans is depriving our public schools of tens of millions of dollars.”
SPFT proposed working with the Board of Education and Superintendent Joe Gothard to secure additional funds for the Saint Paul Public Schools in three ways:
- Negotiate with major local corporations to secure additional contributions for SPPS and support changes in state tax policy to make these contributions sustainable over time;
- Seek additional payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs) from major local healthcare and higher education nonprofits; and
- Place a referendum on the November 2018 ballot.
“I am so proud that SPPS has taken a stand and said to our immigrant and refugee families: You are welcome here. Now, we need to put actions behind these words and invest in our public schools so that our students – especially our English Learners – can succeed to their fullest potential,” said Erica Schatzlein, SPFT Vice President and an English Learner teacher at Nokomis Montessori Magnet School.
“I recently led a circle for a group of staff members at one of our elementary schools that has applied twice to become a restorative practice pilot site,” said Becky McCammon, Restorative Practice Coordinator for SPPS. “Despite a strong application, both times they have not been selected because of limited resources. We need more funding for our schools so we can expand restorative practices in our district for all who seek the opportunity to learn, lead, and lean into our humanity.
The next negotiations session for the licensed staff bargaining unit will be held on October 12 at the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers offices (23 Empire Dr.)