By Jeff Wagner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — We’re approaching the 11th hour here of negotiations. The school district made a proposal Sunday and the teachers union countered Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, parents are making plans in case a strike happens Tuesday.

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“I love my job and I love my students and I want my students to have what they need to shine,” said Erica Schatzlein, Vice President of St. Paul Federation of Educators.

That desire is why the St. Paul teachers union says it’s prepared to strike Tuesday if an agreement on a new contract isn’t reached.

Teachers are demanding more mental health and multi-lingual staff in schools as well as restorative practices to prevent troubled students from ending up in the justice system.

“They are trying to pit educators against our students and against our families by saying that they are willing to make these investments that they know we need if they come out of educators wages,” Schatzlein said.

After the union responded with a counter offer, the district suggested taking both proposals to an arbiter — basically having a third party make a ruling.

The superintendent says it would prevent a strike, while also allowing negotiations to continue.

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The union strongly said no.

“So to go into arbitration where somebody who’s even further removed from the classroom where we’re going to have to school them on all of the issues that are happening in our schools every day and let them decide what our students, need doesn’t seem to make sense to us,” said Nick Favor, President of St. Paul Federation of Educators.

Parents we talked with say they understand why teachers are holding firm, but they’re also stressed wondering how to manage a strike.

“It is very unsettling just because like I said, I’m a single parent. If school is out then I’m very limited on where I can bring my child,” Shaynice Flemming said.

The union president said they’re willing to negotiate past midnight so long as there’s movement in their conversations. If a strike happens the city of St. Paul has a plan in place where students can go to rec centers and libraries, which includes meals.

For example, Como park zoo is offering a day camp for grades k-4.

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Details of the city of Saint Paul’s plans in the event of a strike can be found at stpaul.gov/spps-strike.

Jeff Wagner