MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Teachers in St. Paul have notified the district they intend to strike on March 10.

Teachers walked an informational picket line before school Wednesday to let the community know what they feel is preventing them reaching a deal with the school district.

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Even with a strike date looming, both sides say they’re committed to avoiding a walkout.

Hours before students were sitting in their classrooms inside Adams Spanish Immersion school, teachers like Camila Davila manned a picket line outside.

“Our intention being out here is to kind of let the community know what’s happening, what’s happening with our contracts, what’s happening with negotiations on the districts,” Davila said.

Members of St. Paul Federation of Educators say mediation between the union and St. Paul Public Schools is not going well.

(credit: CBS)

Teachers gave the district notice that they will walk out of the classroom unless they reach a settlement March 10. Brian Hodge-Rice of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers says increases in specialized staffing is atop their list.

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“Our number-one ask is mental health supports for our kids, and what that looks like is just more counselors and social workers and school psychologists, as well as multi-language [educational assistants],” Hodge-Rice said.

SPFE, which negotiates a contract with the district every two years, have been in talks since May.

Superintendent Dr. Joe Gothard says St. Paul schools is underfunded by more than $80 million from the state, including special education and related services. He says the district is forced to take money for its general fund to fill the gap.

“I cannot be more clear by stating my disappointment that it has come to this,” Gothard said. “Those three areas — state aid gap, the underfunding of special education, and the growing cost of serving our students who qualify for English language support — total $80 million.”

It is money Gothard says could be used to strengthen the education the district would be able to offer the community. He says he is committed to reaching a settlement.

“I have requested of my team mediation sessions scheduled 24 hours a day and seven days a week to reach a contract settlement,” Gothard said.

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More mediation dates are scheduled before March 10.

Reg Chapman