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Strike Date Set For St. Paul Teachers Union

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) -- A teacher's union in St. Paul has set a strike date.

The union representing teachers and staff says negotiations are not going well.

The strike date is Tuesday.

If a deal isn't done by then, teachers and educational assistants would walk off the job.

While negotiations are expected to continue through the weekend, tensions are running high.

Late Thursday afternoon, St. Paul Public Schools Superintendent Joe Gothard talked to reporters.

"We are optimistic in the next three days we can come together and avert a strike, reach an agreement with our teachers, educational assistants and community service professionals," he said.

Gothard took the job as St. Paul's superintendent seven months ago.

On Thursday, he and two of his administrators talked about what they're planning to do to help students and their families, if a strike does occur.

Nick Faber, the president of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers, said his teams are willing work through the weekend "as long as we are making progress."

But reaching an agreement on the issues most important to the St. Paul Federation of Teachers has not happened.

Faber says they've hit a wall when it comes to limits on class sizes and providing support services to English language learners and special education students.

He believes there is money in the district's budget to fund their proposals.

"The example I've given is that we found there was a priority for buying a school in Woodbury for $15 million,and we suddenly decided not to fund some things and to fund that," Faber said.

Gothard said the district is facing "limited finances."

Last week, an overwhelming majority of union members voted to authorize a strike.

They've also reached out to community members to locate "safe sites" where students can go if schools are closed.

The East Side Freedom Library is one of those places.

"I only know what I can do, which is to use this resource we created, this library, as a place that kids will not only be safe but will be able to continue their education," said the library's Peter Rachleff.

The school district says they are planning to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner to kids at some schools, if a strike occurs.

They also plan to have middle school and high school students continue their work by using their school-issued iPads.

The two sides are scheduled to meet Friday, Saturday and Sunday to try to avert a strike.

The last time there was a teachers strike in the district was 1946.

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