Minneapolis school district makes ‘final’ wage offer for education support professionals – StarTribune.com
Minneapolis Public Schools announced on Sunday what it called a “final offer” for education support professionals as the district and union continue negotiations. Classes are canceled for Monday, marking the 10th day that the district’s 28,700 students have missed school since the teacher strike began.
In a recorded video released Sunday afternoon, School Board Chairwoman Kim Ellison shared a proposed wage increase for 85% of education support professionals (ESPs) to $23 per hour or more and moving the lowest paid ESPs from $15.45 to $18 per hour. Shortly after the video went online, union leaders said the district’s offer is still short of their request to get support staff starting wages to $35,000.
Ellison said in the video that raising ESP wages has been a “top priority” since the beginning of negotiations.
The offer includes two $3,000 bonuses the next two years and wage increases between 8.2% and 34.6% depending on job classification, with an average increase of 15.6%.
It also includes an investment of $3.5 million to provide additional hours for ESPs, who are part-time hourly employees, and four additional paid duty days for professional development and collaboration.
Ellison said the offer “puts us beyond what we have in resources,” and will mean budget cuts in the future. The district will need to make more than $10 million in reductions for the next school year as a result.
The total cost of the the proposals is $9.3 million in the first year and $13.4 million the second year.
“We believe this contract both meets what they’ve asked for and demonstrates a measure of the respect they deserve. We are asking them to accept this offer today, and if not, to join us in arbitration so that we can get a deal on this current contract,” Ellison said.
The union represents about 1,200 ESPs. Their starting wage is about $24,000, and the union is pushing for that to be $35,000, which the district said the final offer brings most full-time ESPs close to.
Shaun Laden, president of the ESP chapter of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, said in a statement on Sunday: “While we appreciate MPS getting to where they are, we know they can get to $35,000 for ESP. It won’t take much more on their part to settle this strike and get our students and educators back to school.”
In the statement, Laden also reiterated the other union priorities to recruit and retain educators of color, reduce class sizes, add mental health supports and provide “competitive” pay for teachers.
“Our members are ready to hold the line until we get there,” Laden said.
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