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St. Paul school board approves contract with teachers union, granting raises, pandemic bonuses

19 April 2022

The St. Paul school board on Tuesday approved the contract district leaders negotiated with the teachers union, which is projected to cost an additional $8 million over two years.

District and union negotiators reached a last-minute deal in early March, narrowly avoiding a strike for St. Paul’s 32,000 students. In Minneapolis, educators picketed for three weeks.

The board approved the contract on a 6-0 vote. Board Member Uriah Ward, whose wife is a teacher in the district, abstained.

René Myers, a member of the union’s bargaining team, thanked Superintendent Joe Gothard for the questions he asked during negotiations and the demeanor he displayed as the two parties hammered out the contract specifics.

“When we entered those last days together, there was a noticeable shift in attitude toward the work, and things began to happen,” Myers said during the meeting’s public comment period. “When you were present, things began to happen.”

Myers also thanked board members for attending negotiation sessions. Gothard also expressed his gratitude to union negotiators and praised Kenyatta McCarty, the district’s executive director of human resources, for her positive attitude during bargaining sessions.

“It definitely feeds to others as patience gets tested or ideas get criticized,” Gothard said.

The most significant changes in the agreement include a 2% raise for teachers and school and community service professionals and a new wage floor of $18.82 for education assistants, up from $15.94.

That will make the median salary for education assistants about $50,000 per year, up from about $42,000 now, according to union officials.

The district also agreed to pay teachers and education assistants bonuses of up to $3,000 — $1,500 each for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school year.

St. Paul Public Schools pledged to hire six more psychologists and increase the district’s contributions to employee health plans.

The agreement also capped class sizes in high-poverty schools. The maximum enrollment in first-, second- and third-grade classes will be 25. Ninth-grade class sizes will be capped at 35.

Minneapolis Public Schools officials say the pay increases educators negotiated there will cost an additional $80 million over two years and include raises that apply retroactively.

A pair of parents who testified during the public comment period of the St. Paul school board meeting argued against the district cutting the assistant principal position at Adams Spanish Immersion School, saying the building needs two administrators to ensure the school runs smoothly and communicates effectively with parents.

This post was originally published on this site

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