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Minneapolis teachers reach tentative deal with school district

Minneapolis teachers reach tentative deal with school district
Minneapolis teachers reach tentative deal with school district 01:49

MINNEAPOLIS — After working without a contract for 300 days, the union representing teachers in the Minneapolis school district said they struck a tentative deal with the district late Wednesday night. 

Union members were supposed to vote Thursday and Friday on whether to authorize a strike.

The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and leaders with Minneapolis Public Schools have been at odds for nearly a year over higher pay and better benefits to retain teachers. 

For months, district leaders said they faced a historic budget shortfall and would need to cut more than 200 positions to close a $115 million gap. 

MFT continued to push for an 8.5% salary increase for teachers in the first year of the next contract and 7.5% in the second year, in addition to better benefits.  


Both sides had moved to mediation in February and the last time they met was Tuesday, but union members said after an 18-hour negotiating session they still couldn't see eye to eye. 

"We worked together collaboratively in service to the students of Minneapolis Public Schools and reached an agreement that we are both proud of. Our time today was incredibly productive," said union President Greta Callahan. "We believe it is a new day for MPS."

Union leaders and public school officials said that educators will see the highest raise in the last 25 years. Callahan also noted that there is some workload relief especially for special educators in the elementary schools and a reduction in the calendar, among other highlights. They didn't share specifics to the public during a Friday press conference, as they're sending out information to teachers next week.

Then, members of the union will vote between May 8 and May 10, with a potential ratification on May 14. 

Superintendent Dr. Lisa Sayles-Adams released a statement saying in part: "As we keep our students at the center, we worked together to reach an agreement that honors the hard work of our licensed staff and recognizes our budgetary constraints. We look forward to continued partnership."

Sayles-Adams said the $110 million deficit will grow after negotiating all contracts, and staff reduction is still in play. However, they didn't need to ask the district for additional funds, and are looking towards a potential referendum in the fall for "fully funding education."

While the teacher's union struck a tentative deal, the union representing the Minneapolis education support staff has not. They are expected to continue with Thursday's vote on whether to authorize a strike. Sticking points include wages, working hours per week, and health insurance.

Minneapolis teachers last went on strike in March 2022, which lasted three weeks.

Parents relieved as possible strike averted

Barton Elementary parents are feeling relieved, waking up Thursday morning to learn a potential strike could be avoided.

"I'm glad things are moving forward and kids don't have to miss school," said Tim Johnson, a Barton Elementary dad.

"[It's] a collective sigh of relief," said Lea Howard, a Barton Elementary mom.

While many of these parents feared a possible strike, they understand why their kids' teachers are holding their ground in contract negotiations.

"I think teachers should get paid more because they do really important work and it's for our children," said Grant Athmann, a Barton Elementary dad.

A lot of the MPS parents spoke to on Thursday morning said they are still haunted by the 2022 strike, which left kids out of the classroom for 3 weeks, and delayed the start to summer vacation.

"It's stressful. It's a lot of last minute planning, it's a lot of piecing your day together, trying to get your job done, trying to make accommodations for your child, so yeah it's very stressful," said Howard.

A strike-induced school closure is even more stressful for homes where both parents work.

"Thank goodness we can send our kids to school and not have them running around in the basement, while we're somewhere in the corner trying to execute our work day," said Meleah Houseknecht, a Barton Elementary mom.

Houseknecht knows too well that the fight continues after today, and hopes families show their support by keeping their kids at Minneapolis schools.

"Parents with some level of economic privilege, part of what we need to do to build the community that we want to have, is to opt in," said Houseknecht.

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