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SPFE Mediation Update: February 28, 2020

February 28, 2020

I am writing to update you on today’s mediation between SPPS and the Saint Paul Federation of Educators (SPFE), the union that represents our Teachers, Educational Assistants and School and Community Service Professionals.

We made some progress toward a new two-year contract, including a tentative agreement on three proposals and both parties agreed to drop two others.

I believe in and honor our students and families. I believe in and value our educators and staff. I believe in SPPS Achieves, our strategic plan. I also believe in our ongoing efforts and investment in supporting our students. SPFE is proposing to add 300 new student support positions at a cost of $30 million annually. SPPS currently has 500 full-time positions in our District, including School Social Workers, School Counselors, School Psychologists, School Nurses, Health Assistants and Intervention Specialists, dedicated to student health and social-emotional well-being. Student support is important to me and I have supported an increase in staffing, professional development and creating strategic initiatives to address the health and well-being of our students and their dedicated staff. However, we need to prioritize our resources.

The wage proposal, totaling $9.6 million over two years, is more than double what educators received in the current contract when agreed upon in 2018. The increased percentages, 1.5-percent and 2-percent, are the same that the Board of Education authorized for all our collective bargaining units, and several of our unions have already agreed to.

SPPS has also budgeted for annual steps and lanes increases for employees who qualify, this additional investment is $10 million.

These discussions come in the context of a pending strike by SPFE members. If we’re unable to reach agreement on a new contract, that strike could begin on Tuesday, March 10. I believe we all want to avoid that, and I am exercising every option available to me to ensure the great things going on in our schools go on uninterrupted. Our students, families, coworkers and community expect all of us to work together to avoid a strike.

We were able to schedule additional dates for mediation. SPPS and SPFE will meet March 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. I’m hopeful these sessions will lead to a contract settlement.

My team and I are committed to negotiating in good faith until a contract can be agreed upon that is fair to SPFE, equitable with other union contracts and is responsible to the taxpayers of Saint Paul. Most importantly I am focused on our students, with the intention they will all be in school on Tuesday, March 10.

In partnership,


Joe Gothard