The final deal that averted a teachers’ strike in St. Petersburg last week Paul, included rewards of $ 3,000, a 2 percent increase and a slight decrease in the number of classes, according to documents the unions shared with their members.
St. St. Paul Public Schools in St. Paul The Paul Federation of Educators announced the deal around 8.30pm on March 7, just minutes before the next day’s clock was due to be canceled.
Thanks to the compromise, each side claimed victory.
When the district began talks last fall, it said it could not afford more than $ 7.6 million in new spending during the two-year contract.
Superintendent Joe Gothard will not discuss the details of the final agreement, but said in an interview on Tuesday that the district “remained at our financial parameters.”
Union chairwoman Leah VanDassor said the night after the deal, the district had in fact “stepped back” from its wage parameters. She said the department also got “what we need for students,” stating class size limits and mental health promotion.
Gothard acknowledged that the agreement included a “one-time off-plan payment” in addition to new expenses of $ 7.6 million. These bonuses will be covered by U.S. rescue plan grants and will require approval from the Minnesota Department of Education, which must sign county spending plans for federal funds.
That payment is $ 3,000 per employee, the union said – half for last school year and the rest for this year. The Union has described payments as “retention fees” or “recognition awards”.
School board member Chauntyll Allen said on Facebook that teaching assistants, represented by a separate union, will also receive $ 3,000 per employee.
The original wage proposal of the district was for a follow-up salary increase of 1.5 percent. The teachers’ union wanted 2.5 percent.
The union says it has agreed to a gradual 2 percent increase for teachers and professionals in schools and community services.
The first increase will take effect on April 23 and the second on January 1. This delay in implementation will save the district money in the short term, but will cost more in the long run.
The teaching assistants, the third negotiating team represented by SPFE, will receive an hourly increase of $ 1 or $ 1.25 in April and another $ 1 in January, and the first step and first bar in their pay schedule will be removed.
By 2023, EAs will earn between $ 18.85 and $ 37.55 per hour, an increase from $ 15.94 to $ 35.30 this year.
Also, new EA recruiters who speak multiple languages will take another step higher in the payroll, which is worth about 85 cents an extra hour.
The district also agreed to increase its pension contribution by $ 150 per employee per year.
And for teachers of the summer school and the extended school year, there are large hourly increases. More experienced teachers will receive $ 40 per hour, from $ 30.24, and less experienced teachers will receive $ 35, compared to $ 28.
Class size limits were a major negotiating issue.
The district wanted to put an end to the fact that they were expensive and contributed to a ten-year decline in the number of students. The union wanted the temporary language of the class size to become permanent and to introduce even smaller limits for students per class.
In the end, the union largely pushed through. The language will be enshrined in the new contract and in classes K-3 and 9, the student limits will be reduced by one student.
The 2020 agreement, which ended the three-day strike of teachers, created mental health teams in each school with at least one social worker, counselor, intervention specialist, nurse, nurse and psychologist.
This language will be transferred to the new contract and the district will accept another six school psychologists. However, the district will now have the flexibility to change the way it allocates these staff to buildings on the basis of enrollment.
Other elements of the agreement include:
- Higher district health contributions.
- Reduced case limits for occupational therapists and physiotherapists.
- New coach remuneration system.
- Understanding that online course teachers will not have to teach students in person at the same time.
It also maintains the language of restoration procedures and the requirement for the district to rent a full-time support building for schools that have difficulty finding substitute teachers.
Union members vote on a preliminary agreement on Tuesday and Wednesday. If approved, the contract will go before the school board on April 19.
Despite an almost strike, trade union and district leaders expressed optimism that their relationship would no longer be so hostile in the future.
“In these last days and hours, we feel that we have turned the corner in cooperation with the district and we hope that it will continue,” said Union chief negotiator Eric Schatzlein shortly after the agreement was announced.
Gothard said the negotiators had never really left the table after the 2020 strike, which ended just as the coronavirus arrived in Minnesota and forced discussions on health and safety and distance education.
“We’ve done a great job together,” he said, “and there’s something to build on.”