St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman has asked the St. Paul Federation of Teachers to reconsider its refusal to work with the school district on a Q Comp alternative teacher pay plan.
Of major concern to the mayor is the union's willingness to leave $9 million in potential funding "on the table, particularly after voters have repeatedly opened their pocketbooks" in recent school-levy votes, Coleman wrote in a letter Wednesday to union President Mary Cathryn Ricker.
Union negotiators informed district leaders Tuesday that they were turning down a request to collaborate on a Q Comp plan, and while leaders did not explain their reasoning to the district, they told union members and reporters that a key concern was that it would draw time and energy away from contract goals laid out in a union booklet, "The Schools St. Paul Children Deserve."
The district, in seeking to gain union participation, has noted that a recent Q Comp plan negotiated in Minneapolis downplays the original emphasis on performance pay and could generate $9 million in funding — money for teacher professional development and other purposes.
In a letter to members, the union's bargaining team has pointed to the district's $47.6 million fund balance as a possible resource to "meet the critical needs of St. Paul students."
To that, the mayor wrote that the union "appears to be saying that it is turning down $9 million because our schools have more than enough financial resources to carry out its important work of closing the achievement gap."
The two sides are expected to resume negotiations Thursday on a new teachers contract.