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Twin Cities Teachers, Districts Plan To Negotiate Around The Clock In Hopes Of Averting Strike

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Both the St. Paul and Minneapolis teacher federations are working around the clock to keep teachers in the classrooms.

Tuesday marks one week from the deadline set for teachers in the Twin Cities districts to go out on strike. The St. Paul Federation of Educators told its negotiating team to bring sleeping bags and a blanket, as talk will go into the night.

The educators want a deal that will lock in mental health help and smaller class sizes.

"Nobody wants to go on strike, nobody wants to walk away from our students," said Sarah Bosch, a St. Paul teacher. "We are also ready to stand up for the things we really need in our classroom. We need mental health support in our classrooms, we need class size limits, and we know these things are going to help our students."

St. Paul Public Schools says the finances for what teachers need and what the district can provide don't match. However, the district says it's committed to finding a solution.

"Our educators deserve everything they are asking for in a new contract, they really do, and at the same time we have fewer students and fewer resources and less money to meet those needs," Superintendent Joe Gothard said.

Across the river in Minneapolis, from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. the school district and Minneapolis Federation of Teachers have been locked into negotiations.

"From now until that time I've directed the MPS staff engaged in contract negotiations to meet 24/7 if necessary to reach an agreement that means day, night and weekends," Superintendent Ed Graff said.

Minneapolis Public Schools says dwindling class sizes and less revenue are the big problems. Both sides say no one wants a strike and are doing all they can to prevent one.

Negotiations are scheduled up to the eleventh hour in St. Paul and Minneapolis.

If an agreement does not happen, teachers on both sides of the river could walk out as early as next Tuesday.

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