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St. Paul Teachers, School District Reach Tentative Deal, Avoiding Strike

Originally published March 7

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) -- Classes will continue uninterrupted at St. Paul Public Schools Tuesday after the district and the St. Paul Federation of Educators announced a contract agreement Monday evening, avoiding a strike at the last minute.

This decision was closely watched by more than 32,000 St. Paul students and their families. Here's what we're told is in the agreement:

* Class size caps
* More mental health support
* Guaranteed recess
* Raises, especially for educational assistants

Leah VanDassor, president of the SPFE, says "it shouldn't have taken a strike vote" to reach this deal.

"This has been an amazing, difficult, taxing last few days, but we have gotten what we need for our students, and we are going to keep working on doing more for them," VanDassor said. "And as we move forward with these new things that we have in our contract, we're going to continue to build and work together to make this the best school district in Minnesota."

St. Paul Federation of Educators presser after deal reached
SPFE members hold a press conference after the tentative deal was reached (credit: CBS)

Erica Schatzlein is an EL teacher, and lead negotiator for SPFE.

"What we have shown here tonight is that educators and school leaders can come together to give our students the resources we need," Schatzlein said.

SPPS Superintendent Dr. Joe Gothard released a statement Monday evening, saying in part that he believes the district and union "have arrived at fair and equitable agreements that respect our collective desire to do right by our students, while working within the district's budget and enrollment limitations."

Teachers voted to authorize a strike late last month. A 10-day cooling period allowed for continued negotiations, and an agreement was reached just before the Tuesday night deadline.

SPFE officials say all teachers in the union will vote "at a later date" on whether to ratify the deal, and it must be formally approved by the Minnesota Board of Education.

Minneapolis Public Schools failed to reach an agreement with the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers on Monday, and a strike will begin Tuesday morning.


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