ST. PAUL (WCCO) — In response to a strike vote scheduled, St. Paul Public Schools Superintendent Valerie Silva announced plans to cancel classes and lay off 2,500 non-union workers if teachers walk off the job.

Silva says in addition to closing schools, all after-school programs, including athletics, would be cancelled.

On Monday night, St. Paul teachers announced they will hold a strike vote on Feb. 24. If teachers authorize a strike, teachers would have to wait 10 days before walking off the job.

The two sides had been in contract negotiations for nine months before this impasse. Teachers say their key issues include reducing class sizes and expanding preschool, while Silva says the district cannot afford what the teachers are asking for.

The next scheduled negotiating session is Feb. 20 and Silva says she hopes mediators schedule more talks before then.

“This is about our kids. We need to focus on the future of our city and our district. We cannot commit to dollars that we do not have,” Silva said.

Nick Faber with the St. Paul Federation of Teachers says the union would be open to more talks, but took issue with Silva’s claim that the teachers’ proposal is too expensive.

Faber says the district’s numbers are not totally accurate.

Both sides insist they don’t want a strike, but right now they are clearly far apart.

Another concern: the five days of school missed because of cold weather. Silva says if there is a strike, school would definitely get pushed into the summer and graduation in St. Paul schools would be delayed.

Esme Murphy