St. Paul teachers picket on the overpass near Maxfield Elementary School in March 2020. Photo by Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer.
St. Paul teachers will vote Thursday on whether to strike over wages and staffing levels.
Voting will close at 8:30 p.m. If they approve the strike, teachers would have to wait 10 days before walking off the job; however, they could still opt to forgo a strike altogether even if the vote passes.
Thursday is also the fourth and final day for Minneapolis teachers to vote on a potential strike.
The St. Paul Federation of Educators’ list of demands includes 2.5% salary raises, while the school district has offered 1.5% raises.
Under the current contract, first-year teachers in St. Paul make at least $42,459. Minimum pay in Anoka-Hennepin, the state’s largest district, is $44,643; in neighboring Minneapolis, first-year teachers make at least $44,480.
St. Paul teachers are also calling for mental health teams in all schools and reducing maximum class sizes by two students. Current class size caps range from 20 to 40, depending on grade and concentration of low-income students.
St. Paul Superintendent Joe Gothard told the Pioneer Press that the district can’t afford the union’s demands. He said the district is facing a $42.8 million shortfall due to enrollment declines, and the class size reduction would cost $11 million, requiring more budget cuts elsewhere.
The potential strike comes two years after St. Paul educators walked off the job over mental health staffing and teacher pay. The district acceded to some of the union’s demands in March 2020, but union leaders said they felt rushed to reach a deal as the pandemic hit the United States.
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