St. Paul School Board approves contract with teachers’ union, awards pandemic raises and bonuses
The St. Paul School Board on Tuesday approved the district leaders’ contract negotiated with the teachers’ union, which is expected to cost an additional $8 million over two years.
District and union negotiators reached a last-minute deal in early March, narrowly averting a strike for St. Paul’s 32,000 students. In Minneapolis, educators picketed for three weeks.
The board approved the contract on a 6-0 vote. Council member Uriah Ward, whose wife is a teacher in the district, abstained.
Rene Myers, a member of the union’s negotiating team, thanked Superintendent Joe Gothard for the questions he asked during negotiations and the demeanor he displayed as the two parties worked out the details of the contract.
“As we came into these final days together, there was a noticeable shift in attitude towards work, and things started to happen,” Myers said during the meeting’s public comment period. “When you were present, things started to happen.”
Myers also thanked the board members for attending the bargaining sessions. Gothard also expressed his gratitude to the union negotiators and praised Kenyatta McCarty, District Human Resources Executive Director, for her positive attitude during the bargaining sessions.
“It definitely feeds others when patience is tested or ideas are criticized,” Gothard said.
The most significant changes to the agreement include a 2% increase for teachers and school and community service professionals and a new salary floor of $18.82 for teacher assistants, up from $15.94 previously.
That will bring the median salary for teaching assistants to about $50,000 a year, from about $42,000 now, according to union officials.
The district also agreed to pay teachers and education assistants bonuses of up to $3,000-$1,500 each for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years.
St. Paul Public Schools has pledged to hire six additional psychologists and increase district contributions to employee health plans.
The agreement also capped class sizes in very poor schools. The maximum number of enrollments in the first, second and third year classes will be 25. The ninth year class size will be capped at 35.
Minneapolis public school officials say educator pay increases negotiated there will cost an additional $80 million over two years and include increases that apply retroactively.
A pair of parents who testified during the St. Paul School Board meeting’s public comment period objected to the district removing the vice-principal position at Adams Spanish Immersion School, claiming that the building needed two administrators to keep the school running smoothly and to communicate effectively with parents.