10th Day Of Strikes: Minneapolis Public Schools Remain Closed

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As teachers continue their strike over compensation and class sizes, Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) will remain closed Monday, with classes postponed for more than 30,000 children for the eleventh day, according to a district official.

According to a statement on the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) and Education Support Professionals (ESP) Facebook page when the strike was first approved, the union was demanding “a living wage” for ESPs, fewer class sizes, and “safe and stable schools.”

“We’ll be back out on the line tomorrow fighting for safe and stable schools!,” the MFT tweeted Sunday.

Meanwhile, MPS said on its website Sunday that it had “shared its last, best and final ESP offer with union leaders that underscores the district’s commitment to honoring the contribution ESPs make to our schools and students.”

The offer includes proposed compensation increases for ESPs, including raising beginning wages for 85 percent of them to at least $23 per hour, equating to close to $35,000 per year for most full-time ESPs, according to the district.

Wages would rise by 15.6 percent on average over the next two years, bringing them “aligned with MFT, MPS, and community value for living wages,” according to the district.

The plan also includes a $3.5 million investment for more hours for ESPs and four additional paid duty days for professional growth and cooperation, according to the release.

“MPS is reaching beyond its financial means on behalf of our ESPs and will need to make more than $10 million in reductions for the next school year as a result,” MPS said.

In a video posted to the union’s Facebook page Sunday night, union officials said they want ESPs to have a minimum $35,000 annual salary. Teacher Chapter President Greta Callahan said the union “passed over a comprehensive proposal for settlement,” but the district officials went home for the night and said they would talk again Monday. “We were ready to keep going all night. This contract needs to get settled. We want kids back in school and it feels like we are the only ones acting like that right now,” Callahan said.

According to the district’s website, there are 31,598 pupils, 3,266 teachers, and 1,223 education support employees.

The district announced at the commencement of the strike that all Minneapolis Public Schools pre-K through 12th grade classes would be canceled “for the length of the strike.”