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St. Paul Schools, Teachers Union Reach Tentative Deal

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – Some good news for St. Paul teachers: There’s a tentative agreement on a new labor contract with St. Paul schools, narrowly averting a strike.

Class size was among the sticking points for teachers in contract talks that came very close to a strike vote. But after a marathon 24-hour negotiating session, St. Paul School Superintendent Valeria Silva announced a deal on Twitter, writing: “We have a tentative contract agreement! Time now to rest, clear our sidewalks (again), and get back into the classrooms on Monday!”

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said the school district came as close to a strike as he’d seen in years.

“What this agreement represents is that we are all in this together, we just need to work together,” Coleman said.

“We may have some differences in how we get there,” he added, “but at the end of the day we share the same goal.”

Details of the tentative deal have not yet been made public.

But one St. Paul parent, Alexis Logdon, said she hopes part of the deal includes a way to reduce class sizes.

Logdon’s 6-year-old daughter Violet is in a kindergarten class with 27 students.

“Handling 27 students is not the same as being able to teach them,” said Logdon, a college librarian who supported the teacher’s effort, including a strike.”Because when you have to handle them all the time, you don’t get to spend as much time teaching.”

A strike authorization vote set for Monday has been canceled.

The 3,200 St. Paul teacher’s union members will get details of the contract next week.

Officials said there are four key provisions that are part of the contract between the district and teachers’ union. They include consistency and predictability of class sizes, higher quality standardized student assessments, maintaining and expanding high quality learning opportunities. Other issues include school redesign, national board certification, positive behavior and intervention supports for students and great family involvement.

The agreement also includes a wage and benefits package for members of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers for 2013-15.

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