St. Paul teachers and school district officials reached a tentative contract agreement Friday after an all-night bargaining session.
“Contract settled. A new day for SPPS students and SPFT members,” reads a post on the St. Paul Federation of Teachers website.
St. Paul Public Schools spokeswoman Toya Stewart Downey confirmed the tentative agreement. She said details of the deal would not be discussed until after the proposed contract is shared with both the teachers union and the school board.
Teachers had been seeking pay increases of 2.5 percent in each year of the two-year contract. In addition, the union pitched an ambitious proposal to improve school climate.
School safety issues came to a head this past fall, when a Central High School teacher was choked into unconsciousness when he tried to break up a fight in the cafeteria and students at Como Park and Humboldt high schools engaged in fights so large they were described by police as “riots.”
Safety concerns and how the district was addressing them helped lead to a major upheaval in the school board. Two newly elected board members — Steve Marchese and Chairman Jon Schumacher — took part in the 24-hour mediation session that began Thursday morning and concluded Friday morning with the tentative contract agreement. Veteran board member John Brodrick also participated in the marathon session.
Eric Fought of the St. Paul teachers union also would give no details of the tentative agreement. He said it will be presented to the union’s executive board and school site leaders Monday.
A statement released by the school district Friday said that the tentative contract addresses “several areas of mutual interest and key priorities,” such as improving school climate, providing additional support for students and teachers and strengthening family engagement.
It also included statements from Superintendent Valeria Silva, union President Denise Rodriguez and Schumacher.
Said Silva: “This tentative agreement represents months of hard work and I’m pleased that we were able to reach this agreement. It shows a clear commitment to our students and families while deepening our partnership between the District and our teachers.”
Said Rodriguez: “This tentative agreement represents the hard work of teachers, staff, parents, students and community partners who have stood strong since last May, fighting to create a better school climate that prioritizes racial equity.”
Schumacher said: “I want to thank both District and Federation leaders for working together through this long and thoughtful process. It is a testament to the commitment we all have to the students we serve.”