St. Paul schools, teachers reach tentative deal

Updated 4:45 p.m. | Posted 1:15 p.m.

St. Paul Public School teachers reached a tentative contract agreement Friday with the district after a 24-hour mediation session.

Details of the deal won't be released until it's presented to union and school board members. But officials say it addresses school climate and increases support for teachers, which was a priority issue for the teachers.

St. Paul's union executive board will consider the agreement Monday before sending it to members for a vote. The St. Paul school board also needs to approve the agreement.

"It was a very long mediation. It was intense," said new board member Steve Marchese, who participated in the marathon talks, the first of the negotiations to include school board members.

"Both sides worked very hard to pull together a deal that I think would be very solid for our district — I think a great advance for our kids, and an opportunity for a reinvigorated relationship between our teaching staff and the district," he said.

The union and the district have butted heads over school discipline. Union leaders took the first step toward a strike in December after a Central High School student choked a teacher unconscious.

The union demanded more support staff in schools and wider use of restorative justice practices.

St. Paul is unusual in the state for making discipline part of negotiations, said Gary Lee of the Minnesota School Boards Association.

There's always discipline problems throughout all the schools throughout the entire United States, but we haven't seen it rear its head at the negotiations table," he said. "For the most part administrators and teachers and board members alike are all trying to work on the same page to get things resolved."

The St. Paul union originally proposed a 2.5 percent per year salary increase. The district countered with a much lower figure earlier this month.

This year's average increase in contract costs in Minnesota is about on par with increases two years ago, Lee said.

School contracts throughout the state expired last June and so far just over half the state's school districts have settled new contracts, according to the statewide union.

Before you go...

MPR News is dedicated to bringing you clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives when we need it most. We rely on your help to do this. Your donation has the power to keep MPR News strong and accessible to all during this crisis and beyond.