Minneapolis teachers OK contract; classes to resume Tuesday

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minneapolis teachers have approved a new contract to end a strike that has kept students out of their classrooms for nearly three weeks.

The school district’s 28,700 students are set to return Tuesday.

The union, which represents about 4,500 teachers and support professionals, voted to approve the new contract Sunday after its negotiators reached a tentative agreement with the district Friday.

The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers went on strike on March 8 after negotiations dragged on over wage increases, smaller class sizes, exemptions for teachers of color from seniority-based layoffs and mental health support for students.

“We have never been more united, and all of our eyes are wide open to the real fight ahead of us,” Greta Callahan, president of the union’s teacher chapter, said Sunday at a news conference announcing the contract’s approval. “This is one battle in a larger war that we are fighting, and it is for strong public schools.”

The school district plans to add 42 minutes to the end of each school day and two weeks to the school year to make up for the lost schooling caused by the strike.

The St. Paul Federation of Educators approved a similar contract on March 16 after it reached a tentative agreement with the district a week earlier.

Meanwhile, teachers in California’s capital, Sacramento, remain on strike over a contract impasse. They walked off the job last week.