The Minneapolis School District and the teachers union reached a tentative agreement Thursday on a 2015 teachers’ contract that promises a salary increase over the next two years and strategies for positive schoolwide engagement.
The new contract, if approved by the school board and the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, includes engaging with teachers on classroom safety. The settlement, reached after seven months of negotiations, came just before the Minneapolis schools winter break and amid the district’s search for a new superintendent. The board suspended negotiations with preferred candidate Sergio Paez last week, saying they needed more information in light of allegations of misconduct in the district he previously led.
The superintendent search didn’t affect the negotiations process, said Steve Barrett, executive director of human resources operations for the district and the lead negotiator for the teacher contract.
“It was a very collaborative negotiation process,” he said.
The school board and the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers executive board will receive an explanation of the proposed contract in executive session in January, a statement from the district said. Usually, the union votes first, and then the school board reviews the contract for final approval, Barrett said.
Then, the contract will be publicly released.
An e-mail from the union to Minneapolis teachers Friday said the contract would improve class size issues and reduce testing. The contract also includes salary increases, but the amount was not disclosed.
“We truly believe this contract is the start of moving our District in a more positive direction,” the e-mail said.
The negotiation process wrapped up a bit sooner than the previous cycle, Barrett said. In the cycle for the 2013-2015 contract, Barrett said the negotiation process took nine months.
Kim Ellison, school board vice chair, said that assuming the contract meets some of the board’s goals, there won’t be a delay in its approval.
“I don’t think we’re going to wait for a superintendent to approve the teachers’ contract,” she said.
The teachers’ previous contract expired June 30, but remains in effect until a new contract takes its place.
Minneapolis school board Chairwoman Jenny Arneson said the district was working toward resolving teacher contracts for many months, and that the board was prepared to move forward. She said the superintendent search’s timing was coincidental.
“We’re really pleased that the contract is settled,” she said. “We’re always thrilled when the teachers’ contract is finalized.”