Parents, students and community members rallied with members of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers outside school buildings across the city Wednesday morning, demanding progress in contract talks between SPFT and the St. Paul Public Schools.
Bargaining was scheduled to resume Thursday.
Wearing hats and scarves in SPFT’s signature red, participants chanted and carried signs expressing support for the teachers’ bargaining priorities, including measures to improve school climate, reduce class sizes and beef up staffing among school nurses, librarians, social workers and other support positions.
“I wouldn’t be out here if it was just about financial issues,” Laurel Kuhner Berker said outside American Indian Magnet School, where she teaches. “I’m out here because these issues affect the kids.”
Other teachers outside American Indian Magnet expressed concern that the district already is disregarding some provisions of SPFT’s existing contract.
Kuhner Berker’s fifth-grade class has 30 students – up from 23 last year – and is one of four classrooms in the building with enrollments that exceed the contractual limits. The school also does not have the required number of kindergarten aides, she said.
“This is about fairness,” said middle-school teacher Bob Otto, also a parent of three children in the district. “We want a quality education for all children.”
Walk-in events took place at more than 50 school sites across the district, according to SPFT.