May 2, 2024 - News

Minneapolis teachers win raises, but budget deficit still looms

From left: Minneapolis Public Schools superintendent Lisa Sayles-Adams (yellow dress), teacher union president Greta Callahan, and school board president Collin Beachy at a press conference last week. Photo: Kyle Stokes/Axios

A new contract has put Minneapolis Public Schools' teachers in line for 4% raises this year and 5% next year.

The big picture: MPS faces a $110 million shortfall that has already forced drastic cuts in next year's budget, with the real possibility of school closures looming in the near future.

Why it matters: The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers hopes the deal marks a turning point for the district.

The latest: After announcing the tentative agreement last week, the union released full details on Tuesday.

Data: Minneapolis Public Schools & Minneapolis Federation of Teachers. Chart: Axios Visuals

Zoom in: The new deal also makes teachers eligible for a raise every two years instead of every three.

  • Because the change would bump teachers into higher salary brackets, this is equivalent to another 1% raise, MFT president Greta Callahan told Axios.
  • "We're helping [teachers] accelerate through the pay scale much faster," Callahan said, "which is closer to what other districts are doing and also keeps us more competitive."
  • The new deal will also shorten the school year by three days and cut two teacher training days from the calendar, something teachers had asked for.

By the numbers: MPS spokesperson Mary Alice Rosko told Axios the tentative agreement with the teachers "would not require MPS to increase the current projected $110 million-dollar budget gap."

  • MPS superintendent Lisa Sayles-Adams said negotiators did not exceed the amount of money the school board had set aside for the contract.

Yes, but: The district still has other labor agreements to settle, including with the classroom aides who yesterday filed a strike notice. The earliest they could walk out is May 14.

  • "Those agreements could increase the budget gap," Rosko said.

Friction point: MPS is already shaving $47 million from next year's budget and leaning on rainy day funds to stave off deeper cuts.

Threat level: Sara Spafford Freeman, a parent who watches district finances closely, told Axios she worries MPS' spending on the labor deals could force "another round of significant budget reductions for schools."

  • Freeman notes other districts are facing similar budget crunches.
  • Many advocates say that despite recent increases in funding, Minnesota's school funding formula hasn't kept up with inflation.

Behind the scenes: The union hopes the agreement signals a thaw in a chilly relationship with previous district management.

  • "The forces in power are moving differently. It's a new era," MFT vice president Marcia Howard told reporters last week.

What's next: Union membership will vote on the deal next week, and the MPS board could ratify it later this month.

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