The Minneapolis school board is taking a step that's apparently unprecedented in the last several decades of asking the public for its views on upcoming labor negotiations before it moves behind closed doors to adopt a strategy.
Board Chair Alberto Monserrate said the comment session is a response to suggestions from both outside and inside the district. District employees want a chance to talk about their conditions prior to the beginning of formal bargaining. Outside interest groups also want a voice in a process they can only partially observe after it begins.
The district negotiates with 12 labor unions representing employees in 15 bargaining groups. But the teacher contract typically draws the most attention because the more than 3,000 union teachers amount to more people than the memberships of all other unions combined.
The listening session is scheduled for 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.Tuesday in the boardroom of district headquarters at 1250 Broadway. The board said it wants to hear from students, parents, community members, teachers and other staff members.
Lynn Nordgren, president of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, said she expects parents will show u0p with some of the same concerns expressed in union listening sessions: class sizes, special education caseloads and the difficulty of getting individual attention for their child.
“We look forward to the participation of families and hope that many people show up,” Nordgren said.
Lynnell Mickelsen, one of a coterie of those who have advocated what they describe as reforms in the teacher contract, said she welcomes the hearing. “I think it’s great and I hope they have more. I hope they don’t have just one.”