Teachers union contract approved

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At its Oct. 13 meeting, the Minneapolis School Board approved a contract agreement with the district’s teachers union that will increase pay and make changes to the process of laying off teachers in the event of job cuts.

The district began bargaining with the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, Local 59 in February 2019. The new contract covers the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years.

In Minneapolis, like many districts, teachers are paid based on their years of experience and educational attainment. For teachers in their first 11 years of the profession, the salary schedule generally includes an annual raise of between 1.6% and 11%. Teachers in year 11 and beyond generally receive a raise every three years. Teachers can also advance to a higher rung on the salary schedule by completing additional training or university courses.

For the 2019-20 school year, teachers who were due for a raise because of additional years of experience saw that amount reflected in their paychecks. But because the new contract includes a 1% increase to the 2019-20 salary schedule, all teachers who were with the district last year will receive a one-time retroactive payment equal to 1% of last year’s salary.

For the current school year, teachers who were due for a raise because of additional experience or education have already been seeing that in their paychecks. The new contract also includes a 1% increase to the 2020-21 salary schedule, so all teachers — including those not receiving a service-time-related salary increase this year — will get a 1% pay bump.

In the event of staffing reductions, teachers with fewer years in MPS would still generally be the first let go from a given school. But the contract gives the district some flexibility with layoffs. If a position needs to be eliminated, the district can choose between all teachers with less than three years’ tenure in MPS. The contract also exempts staff who work in specialized programs such as Montessori or language immersion and those in schools with the greatest concentrations of poverty from seniority-based layoffs.

Additionally, the contract makes changes to the process the district uses for placing teachers whose jobs are cut or who are returning from extended leaves of absence.

Teachers whose jobs are cut will still have the opportunity to interview for other district jobs before outside candidates, but they will only have one chance to do so, instead of two. That’s part of an effort by district officials to reach outside candidates earlier in the hiring cycle.

The contract provides teachers a one-time “self-reflection day” on June 15, 2021, and offers teachers 55 and older who have worked in the district for 25-plus years a one-time $15,000 severance package.

The contract will cost the district $24 million.