By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Teachers are still trying to reach an agreement on a contract with Minneapolis Public Schools.

The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers organized a rally to begin ahead of Tuesday night’s scheduled school board meeting.

Teacher-district negotiations have already been making headlines this week, as St. Paul narrowly avoided a strike that was supposed to start Tuesday.

Teachers in Minneapolis say they do not want it to get to that point.

Negotiations have been going on since September of last year.

“We’ve had very little progress at the table or in mediation,” said Michelle Wiese, president of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers.

The federation has been pushing for a 10 Point Platform, which includes smaller class sizes, more nurses in schools and living wages for all employees.

minneapolis teachers protest Minneapolis Teachers Rally At School Board Meeting

(credit: CBS)

“With large class sizes, it is next to impossible to do your job in the best way for students that is possible, so class size is huge,” Wiese said.

The district breaks down estimates of costs of the teachers’ proposals on the Minneapolis Public Schools website.

They say equal paychecks would cost the district over $120,000, and smaller class sizes would cost $37 million.

“I think our challenge is we’ve been very transparent,” said Maggie Sullivan, Minneapolis Public Schools’ chief human resources officer. “We’ve got a $33-million projected deficit for next year.”

Sullivan said the district agrees with many of the points being made by the MFT, but the funds simply are not there to meet all the demands.

“In a district where 80 percent of our costs go to people … the budget becomes a really critical part,” Sullivan said.

Teachers have criticized the school district for focusing too much on money. They say their primary goal is to help students.

“We need Minneapolis to reevaluate their priorities,” Wiese said.

Two new mediation sessions were added Monday. Teachers and district officials will be back at the table on Friday.

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