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SPFE Mediation Update: March 5, 2020

March 5, 2020

I am writing to update you on today’s mediation with the Saint Paul Federation of Educators (SPFE), representing Teachers, Educational Assistants and School and Community Service Professionals in SPPS.

My team and I presented a comprehensive counter proposal to SPFEs Proposal #1, providing Student Support for mental health. Their proposal requests SPPS to hire 300 new professionals to staff teams in each of our schools. The total cost of that proposal is $30 million in new spending. This is, in addition to other open proposals, what SPFE has filed an intent to strike over.

My counter proposal:

  • Recognizes and acknowledges the funding shortage in our schools, due to both a decline in enrollment and the fact that State funding has not kept pace with inflation since 2003
  • Proposes to work collaboratively with SPFE to seek additional State funding and develop strategies to increase enrollment in SPPS schools
  • Commits portions of new revenue SPPS receives over the next several years from increased enrollment, increases in State funding and other categorical funds to pay for increased student support, as proposed by SPFE
  • Formulates a joint SPPS/SPFE Student Support Team that will determine how any new revenue will be allocated to student supports at sites
  • Identifies student support teams to include school nurses, social workers, counselors, psychologists,behavior intervention specialists and cultural specialists
  • Develops minimum staffing levels of these professionals at each of our schools
  • Collaborates with behavioral health and other student support partners in our community to supplement the student support work already being provided in our schools

As Superintendent, I believe this proposal addresses items outlined in SPFE’s Proposal #1. Our response demonstrates the acknowledgement that students need additional support and it prioritizes resources where the needs are greatest. We also want to provide incentives for SPPS and SPFE to work collaboratively, demonstrating a mutual commitment to increasing student supports.

Today we also were able to reach tentative agreement on two proposals, and both sides mutually agreed to drop an additional two proposals.

There has been some limited progress today, and we will meet in mediation daily through Monday as we continue our efforts to ensure our students will be in school next Tuesday.

I’m grateful to the Bureau of Mediation Services Commissioner who joined the mediator to assist with our discussions today and both will be with us again when we meet tomorrow.

Let me once again state my commitment to reaching a new contract with SPFE which is fair to their members, equitable to other SPPS unions and responsible to the taxpayers of Saint Paul. Our students and families expect nothing less.

In partnership.

Joe Gothard