A decision by St. Paul's teachers union to reject a proposal to join the Q Comp teacher compensation program disappointed district negotiators, and frustrated them, too.
That's because while the St. Paul Federation of Teacher's bargaining team explained its reasoning to members and reporters, it declined to share details with the district during a brief Tuesday meeting.
"Although the district's negotiations team asked the federation to explain why they declined to collaborate on the Q Comp issue, the response was simply, 'No,' " a district statement reads. "Instead, the federation said it was a matter for the negotiation table."
The statement, given to reporters at the close of Tuesday night's school board meeting, quoted Superintendent Valeria Silva as saying: "Unless we have a strong indication from the federation's executive team that they will collaborate with us, then it will be almost impossible to move forward."
Asked if that meant that the district might not show when talks on a new teachers contract resume Thursday, Board Chairwoman Jean O'Connell said, no, Silva was referring only to the potential of collaborating on the Q Comp proposal -- not to contract negotiations in general.
The two are linked because the district brought up the idea of working together on a Q Comp plan during talks regarding the new teachers contract. Union negotiators have said that working on a Q Comp proposal would steer attention away from the union's contract priorities.
In its statement, the district has noted that the union's refusal to join Q Comp will cost the district access to $9 million in funding. The union counters that the $9 million would have been a combination of state and local funding, and that the local money -- more than $3 million, according to the union -- would come from taxes that would be levied by the district without voter input.
"SPFT has strongly supported previous voter-approved levies because we felt that dollars would be used in ways that would directly benefit students," the union said.
The money was being earmarked for professional development, which the district points out is a "pillar" of the federation's contract priorities, as spelled out in the booklet, "The Schools St. Paul Children Deserve."
Thursday's negotiations are set for 5 p.m. at Benjamin E. Mays International Magnet School.
Here's the earlier report on the union's refusal to work on a Q Comp plan: