“Tentative agreement” reached on teachers contract

Minneapolis Public Schools and the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers announced today a “tentative agreement” has been reached on the 2011–2013 teachers contract.

A joint press release from the union and the district contained few details on the contract, but promised specifics on the new deal once it is ratified by teachers and approved by the School Board. Those actions are expected by mid-April, according to the press release.

District spokesperson Stan Alleyne said an outline of the new contract would be released early next week, possibly Monday.

“Both sides are pleased that they concentrated on student academic achievement and educational reform,” Alleyne said. “Those were topics that were discussed throughout negotiations.”

This had been one of the most closely scrutinized negotiating sessions in recent years. Several observers, mostly people associated with the group Put Kids First Minneapolis, sat in on negotiation sessions until the teachers union asked for a state mediator to intervene in the negotiations in February, which closed the talks to the public.

Greg Abbott of the Minnesota School Boards Association said, according to their numbers, about 147 of Minnesota’s 337 districts had ended contract negotiations. Those numbers don’t reflect the Minneapolis agreement, and they may not be as up-to-date as the records compiled by the state Department of Education, he cautioned.

“Minneapolis isn’t the last one,” he said. “They’re right in the middle of the pack.”

Abbott said this was “an unusual negotiations year,” because the state government shutdown last summer pushed back the beginning of talks between unions and their districts. Most years, talks over the two-year contracts begin in May, but negotiations didn’t begin until the end of last summer in most districts.

A call to teachers union President Lynn Nordgren for comment were not immediately returned Thursday afternoon.