Another day of contract talks for St. Paul teachers yields little progress

A person wearing a red hat and scarf holds a sign.
Sherri Silva joins other St. Paul Public Schools teachers at an informational picket outside Adams Spanish Immersion Elementary School on Feb. 26.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

Talks resumed Sunday afternoon between St. Paul Public Schools and the union representing its educators, less than two days ahead of a possible strike.

Nick Faber, president of the St. Paul Federation of Educators, told MPR News on Sunday that while the two sides have made some progress, there hasn’t been much movement on bigger contract issues.

The two sides met for nearly 14 hours Saturday. Faber said another lengthy session might not be in cards if they remain at a standstill.

“I think our bargaining team is not interested in staying overnight if we're not seeing movement. So, we're here as long as we're getting closer to meeting the needs of our students,” Faber said.

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The union is asking for a fully staffed mental health team in each school and additional interpreters, along with better pay and benefits.

The district issued a statement overnight, saying it's trying to be responsive to the union's call for more support staff in schools.

“I believe our students need more social/emotional support, but any additional resources — above the millions of dollars SPPS currently invests in these positions — have to be targeted where the need is greatest,” Superintendent Joe Gothard noted in the statement, adding: “A strike is not inevitable, and it certainly is not necessary.”

The district says it doesn't have the money to pay for all of the union's requests.

The union represents 3,500 members. If they walk out on Tuesday, it would be the first teachers’ strike in St. Paul since 1946.