Minneapolis school leaders issue 'final offer' to educational support professionals in move to end strike

Weekend negotiations have failed to result in an agreement

Minneapolis teachers strike in front of the governor's residence.
Thousands of Minneapolis school teachers and support staff rallied to rally for increased funding for public education in front of the Minnesota Governor's Residence in St. Paul on Friday.
Kerem Yücel for MPR News

The Minneapolis public school district issued what it called its final offer to education support professionals, as the ongoing strike will cancel a 10th day of classes on Monday.

Teachers and educational support professionals want more money, smaller class sizes and other concessions from Minneapolis Public Schools. Those are demands the district says it can’t afford. 

The latest development came Sunday, when the district offered its “last, best and final” offer to the educational support professionals, or ESPs. The complex offer includes an average pay bump of more than 15 percent over two years. That would get most of the full-time ESPs close to a salary of $35,000 a year, according to the district.

“We know that our students want to be back in school with their teachers and ESPs and our staff desperately want to see our students,” said Minneapolis School Board Chair Kim Ellison, in a video message posted by the district. “We believe this is the fastest way possible to get our students back to school."

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The offer is more than the district’s last offer of around a 9 percent bump, but it is still less than the educators requested. Ellison said even the current offer would result in budget cuts in other areas.

As the district released details of its latest offer Sunday, several unions rallied in North Minneapolis to show support for the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers. 

“While we appreciate MPS getting to where they are, we know they can get to $35,000 for ESP,” said the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers in a statement. “It won’t take much more on their part to settle this strike and get our students and educators back to school. We believe we can get this done.”

The offer to the ESPs is separate from the parallel talks with the district’s teachers. Those also remain unresolved. The teachers and ESPs both need to accept a deal to end the strike.

Talks in recent days had shown some signs of progress, with union leaders on Friday calling the latest developments “promising.” On Saturday, both sides released similar statements calling for a deal and a return to school — though with different emphases.

Minneapolis Public Schools said they are “committed to getting students back in classrooms as soon as possible, as well honoring the needs of teachers and ESPs.”

The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers said on Twitter that they “want to be back in the classroom, but will hold the line until [the district] agrees to the safe and stable schools students deserve.” 

District officials say that if a deal is reached, they’ll share that information with families and staff as soon as possible. They’re discussing ways to make up missed time with the state Department of Education.