MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The St. Paul Federation of Educators is ready for a third day on the picket line Friday.

Classes were canceled Tuesday and Wednesday for 36,000 public school students found teachers walking through downtown to educate the public about why they are not in the classroom.

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“We need supportive teachers who speak our students’ languages. We are in need of more support for students who need our help,” second grade ELL teacher Camila Carroll said.

The teachers’ union is at odds with the district over more funding for special education, bilingual services and mental health counseling — funding that district communications director Kevin Burns says is cost prohibitive.

“In order for discussions to begin again, one or both parties need to propose something new and different. The object is to not pick up where we left off. That has not yielded the results we want,” Burns said.

Facing a third day out of the classroom, the district is not only providing breakfast and lunch at 24 sites, it is also staffing seven Kid Space locations to provide safe, supervised activities and meals for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Britteney Jackson’s twins are ready for Kids Space.

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“It’s a great thing that they’re opening up sites for the kids,” Jackson said. “I actually did pre-register them for the Rondo school, so they’ll be going starting tomorrow.”

Right now, Jackson and other parents, like Andy Zelinskas, are bringing their kids to St. Paul Park and Recreation facilities like Oxford Community Center.

“It’s safe. There’s lots of other kids to play with, and it seems like a pretty supportive environment,” Zelinskas said.

Park and rec is partnering with the district to provide safe learning environments for kids, while the adults figure out how to get things back to normal.

The district sent out layoff notices to all potentially-affected employees.

St. Paul educators will go back to the bargaining table Thursday at 8 a.m. in hopes of reaching an agreement.

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Click here for more information on the city of St. Paul’s plans for the strike.

Reg Chapman