By Esme Murphy

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — There will not be a teachers’ strike in St. Paul.

The school district and the teachers union reached a tentative deal overnight. Teachers were scheduled to walk off the job as soon as Tuesday, meaning 37,000 children would not have had classes.

But a deal was reached overnight. The two sides met all weekend, capped off by a 13-hour mediation session Sunday.

At a Monday afternoon news conference, both school and union officials refused to discuss details of the tentative deal.

St. Paul Public Schools Superintendent Joe Gothard said the agreement would not contribute to St. Paul’s current school-year $23 million budget deficit.

In a joint news conference with St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, Superintendent Gothard and the teachers union offered no details of the tentative deal that will prevent a strike. Gothard said he wanted to give the teachers union members a chance to review details before they were made public.

“There is some ongoing vetting and making sure everyone has questions answered about the terms before we bring it to approval to our open board meeting in March,” Gothard said.

The teachers’ demands included smaller class sizes and adequate support for students who are English language learners, as well as those with special needs. Both school officials and the union said the larger issue beyond the tentative deal is increased funding at the local, state and federal level.

Nick Faber, the president of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers said, “The fight is not over. We need to get this funding piece taken care of so we are not having this kind of disruption to our school district every two years.”

A number of parents watching the news conference said while they are relieved their will not be a strike, they are worried about the details.

“I am excited there will not be a strike. I am nervous that no one will answer the question about the funding,” Selina Gant said.

This is not a done deal. Members of the teachers union will be briefed on details of the deal on Tuesday, and a vote by union members will likely take place sometime next week. And the School Board will have to ratify the deal at their March meeting.

The chair of the school board was at Monday’s news conference, but refused to answer any questions.

 

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