MPS Teacher Negotiation Update

by MPS Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson

MPS Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson
Wed March 07, 2012

Dear MPS Partners and Friends,

For the last month, the Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) and the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) have been in mediation at the request of MFT as we work to negotiate a new contract for teachers. The focus of negotiations has been on how we can support and advance student achievement.

While I cannot offer specific details, I want to share what I can and provide a brief update on the progress made so far and challenges still facing the negotiating teams. Only a couple of issues continue to separate MPS and MFT. We are hopeful an agreement is imminent.

We have made substantial progress toward an agreement around the reforms necessary to close the achievement gap and improve student achievement outcomes. We have in concept agreed to providing students with more instructional time, providing teachers with additional preparation time and establishing a more collaborative and focused professional development plan. Much of this reform has been targeted at our most challenged schools.

The teams have yet to reach a final agreement on two issues. The first is teacher stability in the school district’s most challenged schools. There has been much discussion in the public about changes to teacher seniority rules. The school board and I are committed to reviewing all staffing practices that impact the effectiveness of instructional staff as well as the integration of teacher evaluation. As superintendent, I am capable of administratively managing some practices that promote stability in staffing. This is something we hope to build on in the future.

The second issue that remains to be resolved is future salaries and benefits. MPS has offered a substantial investment in a new salary schedule; however, that investment needs to be balanced with other changes in benefits, specifically around equitable contributions to health care. This is a necessary step to enable MPS to provide long-term financial stability and maximize funds to support educational programs.

I will always respect the passion and professionalism of our teachers. Without a doubt, they want dramatic academic improvement as much as I do. They work hard every day to make a difference in the lives of youth. I applaud their work and respect their views. While this process has taken more time than we wish, we are committed to creating a negotiating climate of mutual respect, trust and collaboration as we seek common ground behind a shared vision to prepare all of our students for college and the working world.

We remain committed to keeping positive momentum in these talks and I continue to urge the negotiators to find common ground to reach an agreement. I hope this message gives you a snapshot of where we are in the process. We will be able to share the full settlement details at the appropriate time.

Sincerely,

Bernadeia H. Johnson, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools