Mediation continues between St. Paul teachers, district

March 9, 2020 GMT

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Officials with St. Paul Public Schools and the union representing its teachers were continuing to negotiate into the night Monday, in hopes of averting a strike planned for Tuesday.

Monday marked the sixth straight day of negotiations between district officials and the St. Paul Federation of Educators. The union said there has been no significant movement on bigger contract issues, including additional resources for mental health needs and multilingual and special education.

On Monday, district officials asked that the negotiations go to arbitration to avoid a strike. But union spokeswoman Megan Boldt said the union is not interested in that. She said the union presented another proposal to the district on Monday afternoon. She expected it would be discussed in mediation on Monday night.

“District leaders don’t understand the urgency of these needs. Educators do — we see them every day in our schools,” Nick Faber, president of the Saint Paul Federation of Educators, said Sunday. “Our students can’t wait any longer.”

District officials have said they’re trying to be responsive to the union’s call for more support staff, but doesn’t have the money to pay for all its requests.

“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 has said.

Negotiations began last May between the union and the district.

If there is no agreement, the teachers will begin picketing Tuesday morning, and the district will cancel classes for roughly 37,000 students.