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Said Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson: “This contract is an important and meaningful step in a phased process of reform and improvement.”

Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune

Board OKs Mpls. teachers contract that adds four days to school year

  • Article by: STEVE BRANDT
  • Star Tribune
  • April 18, 2012 - 8:15 AM

After one last blast from a parade of critics and a defense by Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson, a two-year Minneapolis teachers contract was approved on a 6-2 vote by the school board Tuesday night.

"This contract is an important and meaningful step in a phased process of reform and improvement," Johnson told the board before it voted.

But Shelly Damm, who said her children get an "amazing education" at Whittier and Lake Harriet schools, said she's horrified that children on the wrong side of the achievement gap aren't succeeding.

"Thank you so much for what you did do, but this contract is so mediocre," Damm said.

Voting for the contract were Rebecca Gagnon, Jill Davis, Richard Mammen, Alberto Monserrate, Jenny Arneson and Kim Ellison. The two no votes were cast by Hussein Samatar and Carla Bates, who said that change isn't coming fast enough.

The deal adds four days, or about 2 percent, to next year's calendar at all schools, and 15 minutes to a teacher's duty day, for which the typical teacher would get about $3,090 more annually. Teachers at the six lowest-performing schools report to work four days earlier than their peers next August, and teachers at 10 other schools vote on whether to do so. The district agreed to class-size targets for those schools and to let their staffs junk unneeded programs and curriculum to allow them to focus on student gains.

The deal raises district costs by $17.1 million, or more than 6 percent. Much of that comes from the cost of extra days in class or training, but many teachers will also get added pay for experience or training. It also clears some time-consuming requirements now imposed on teachers in an effort to help them focus more on teamwork and data analysis in an effort to accelerate learning. The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers has ratified the contract with 83 percent support from teachers who voted.

Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438

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