St. Paul school board approves new contract with teachers union

  • Article by: DAAREL BURNETTE II , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 21, 2012 - 8:24 PM

The agreement gives St. Paul educators a slight pay increase, plus changes in evaluations and seniority.

St. Paul's school board approved a two-year contract with its teachers union Tuesday, a deal that will give teachers an annual raise of one-half of 1 percent, institute a new evaluation system and get rid of seniority for a select group of teachers.

The contract is retroactive to July 1 of last year and will cost the district about $14 million.

Negotiations between administrators and the union lasted for eight months before the tentative agreement was reached in January.

A new evaluation system called Peer Assisted Review will dispatch specially trained teachers across the district to mentor, train and grade their peers.

Those evaluations will be considered along with those of administrators when decisions are made to fire, promote or give tenure to a teacher.

In a move to retain high-quality teachers, the contract stipulates that those at the district's Montessori, language immersion and American Indian magnet schools will not be laid off and replaced based on seniority. Because those teachers have special licenses and go through unique training, they are harder to replace and the hiring process is different, administrators said.

Class size was one of the more contentious issues during negotiations and required an outside negotiator.

In the end, they agreed as part of a special Memorandum of Agreement that if the district can afford it, class sizes will be kept in the "lower range" of numbers approved as part of the district's Strong Schools Strong Communities strategic plan.

The union's executive board and the union's general body voted to ratify the agreement before it was presented to the board Tuesday night.

The district, with about 37,800 students, employs about 3,400 teachers.

Daarel Burnette II • 651-925-5032 Twitter: @DaarelStrib

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