Minneapolis educators approve contract, classes set to resume Tuesday

Teachers and supporters listen to a press conference
Teachers and supporters listen to a press conference from Minneapolis Public Schools officials in front of the Davis Education Center in north Minneapolis on March 25, after a settlement was reached. Union members approved the contract agreement on Sunday.
Tim Evans for MPR News

Minneapolis teachers and education support professionals have approved a new contract, the district said Sunday night.

Over the weekend as members voted, the union and district agreed to a plan to to bring educators back on Monday as a transition day, with students returning on Tuesday.

The strike lasted nearly three weeks. The Minneapolis public school district said the union agreed to have students attend school on April 1. The teacher record-keeping day moves to Saturday, April 23.

To help make up the missed days, students will be in school longer, 42 minutes a day beginning April 11. The school year will end Friday, June 24. Spring break remains on the schedule, April 4 - 8.

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The union said nearly 76 percent of teachers voted in favor of the contract, while close to 80 percent of the education support professionals voted yes.

Ed Graff, the school system’s superintendent, told reporters Friday that while negotiations were difficult the past few weeks, “at the end of the day we were all able to come together.” He described it as a fair contract. It runs through the end of the 2022 - 2023 school year.

The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers confirmed members ratified the agreement and hailed the improvements to wages, mental health supports for students and job protections.

“We will return to our schools on Monday more united with our students, our communities, and each other,” said Greta Callahan, president of the teachers chapter in a statement Sunday. “That said, it is unacceptable that our district leaders kept students out of school for 14 days in order to add some of these critical supports for our students.”

Callahan said while they were happy to get an agreement, it was not enough.

Teachers will get a $4,000 one time bonus, 2 percent raise this year, and a 3 percent raise next year.

The contract is expected to help the lowest-paid education support professionals or ESPs whose hourly pay starts at around $15 per hour and $24,000 per year. The new contract would raise that pay to more than $4 per hour, bringing union members who were in the low $24,000 per year range up to almost $35,000 per year, close to the goal the union set for the contract. ESPs also will receive more hours and days.

Shaun Laden, the chapter president for education support professionals, said the vast majority of ESPs in the district currently make a starting wage of $19.83 per hour. This tentative agreement would raise that to almost $24 per hour.