Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) will remain closed Monday, with classes canceled for more than 30,000 students, as teachers continue a strike over wages and class sizes, a district spokesperson has confirmed.
The strike began on March 8th as The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) and Education Support Professionals (ESP) said it was seeking “a living wage” for ESPs, smaller class sizes and “safe and stable schools,” according to a post on the union’s Facebook page when the strike was initially authorized.
“We’ll be back out on the line tomorrow fighting for safe and stable schools!” the MFT tweeted Sunday.
Meanwhile, MPS said on its website Sunday that it had “shared its last, best and final ESP offer with union leaders that underscores the district’s commitment to honoring the contribution ESPs make to our schools and students.”
The offer includes proposed salary increases for ESPs, including increasing starting wages for 85% of them to at least $23 per hour, which the district said would equate to close to $35,000 per year for most full-time ESPs. Wages would increase by 15.6% on average over two years, making them “aligned with MFT, MPS and community value for living wages,” the district said.
Wages would increase by 15.6% on average over two years, making them “aligned with MFT, MPS and community value for living wages,” the district said.
The proposal also includes an opportunity for increased work with an investment of $3.5 million to additional hours for ESPs and four additional paid duty days for professional development and collaboration, the statement said.
“MPS is reaching beyond its financial means on behalf of our ESPs and will need to make more than $10 million in reductions for the next school year as a result,” MPS said.
In a video posted to the union’s Facebook page Sunday night, union officials said they want ESPs to have a minimum $35,000 annual salary. Teacher Chapter President Greta Callahan said the union “passed over a comprehensive proposal for settlement,” but the district officials went home for the night and said they would talk again Monday.
“We were ready to keep going all night. This contract needs to get settled. We want kids back in school and it feels like we are the only ones acting like that right now,” Callahan said.
The district has 31,598 students, 3,266 teachers and 1,223 education support professionals, according to its website. At the start of the strike, the district said all Minneapolis Public Schools classes for pre-K through 12th would be canceled “for the duration of the strike.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: THE HILL