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Minneapolis schools, teachers reach tentative deal to end strike

<i>Glen Stubbe/AP</i><br/>Members of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers are shown protesting for smaller classroom sizes and safer schools on March 9 in St. Paul
Glen Stubbe/AP
Members of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers are shown protesting for smaller classroom sizes and safer schools on March 9 in St. Paul

By Jay Croft and Rebekah Riess, CNN

Minneapolis Public Schools reached a tentative deal with teachers Friday, ending a strike that officially started on March 8 and canceled school for 30,000 students, said Superintendent Ed Graff.

“It has been very challenging, very difficult. But at the end of the day, we were all able to come together and tentatively agree upon what I believe is a fair contract for both our teachers and our educational support professionals,” Graff said.

Negotiations ended around 3 a.m., with a tentative agreement being reached with the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) and Education Support Professionals (ESP) shortly after, Board of Education Chair Kim Ellis said.

The two sides had been negotiating for 21 consecutive days.

“We look forward to welcoming teachers and staff back on Monday, back to our classrooms. Thank you for your unmatched commitment to our students,” Ellis said. “Thanks to Superintendent Graff and to the negotiators on both teams, for their 21 days of continuous work and making this tentative agreement possible.”

Graff said details will be made public within “the next couple of hours and days.”

In a Friday afternoon news conference, MFT and ESP officials said they are “very pleased with the outcomes” of the tentative agreement.

“We have historic agreements that have significantly raised pay for education support professionals,” ESP Chapter President Shaun Laden said. He added details will be shared with union members soon, as negotiators are still working out details on how their return-to-work agreements will look.

Union members said they were seeking “a living wage” for employees in educational support roles, smaller class sizes and “safe and stable schools,” according to a message posted on the union’s Facebook page when the strike was initially authorized.

Meanwhile, in Northern California, teachers with the Sacramento City Unified School District went on strike Wednesday morning after failing to reach an agreement with the school district.

“We are on strike because every student deserves a teacher in their classroom in a fully staffed school,” said an update on the union’s web page. “We are facing a severe staffing crisis in our district. It’s time to prioritize our students.”

The Sacramento City Unified School District offered changes in benefits, compensation, and professional development before negotiations ended late Tuesday.

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CNN’s Stella Chan contributed to this report.

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