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### Significant Salary Increases for Minnesota Educators

St. Paul educators are pushing for significant salary increases, surpassing previous years’ demands. However, they are proposing an unconventional funding solution: utilizing $54 million in new state aid allocated to the district.

This strategy has proven successful in nearby suburban districts, where union leaders have secured contracts comparable in value to the funding received by their respective school systems from the state’s recent $2.2 billion educational investment. This investment included specific allocations for special education and English language learning programs.

During the current negotiation phase, teachers’ unions are advocating for a portion of this statewide investment, emphasizing that the salary raises under discussion are critical for enhancing teacher compensation, as well as improving recruitment and retention efforts amidst challenging staffing shortages. Nonetheless, these generous compensation packages are forcing districts to tighten their budgets once again.

In a recent two-year agreement, the Mounds View Education Association granted raises of 6% this year and 10% in 2024-25. The aim was to ensure competitiveness not only among neighboring districts but also with local employers like Medtronic. In St. Paul, teacher salaries range from approximately \(49,000 for entry-level teachers with a bachelor’s degree to about \)102,000 for educators holding a PhD and 20 years of experience.

The compensation packages in districts such as Mounds View, Anoka-Hennepin, and South Washington County closely align with the increased state aid received by these districts. While some funds are earmarked for salary raises, others are designated for specific purposes. State Representative Cheryl Youakim supports the size of these compensation packages, acknowledging the long-overdue need to address the lack of inflation-adjusted teacher pay.

Despite concerns about the financial implications, districts like South Washington County plan to utilize reserves to cover the costs of teacher salary increases. Education Minnesota, the statewide teachers union, emphasizes the importance of prioritizing educators’ well-being after years of financial sacrifices.

As negotiations progress statewide, Education Minnesota encourages local leaders to analyze district financial reports thoroughly to secure favorable agreements for teachers. The recent agreements reflect a positive shift towards improving staff welfare and learning conditions in schools, although there is still room for further progress and collaboration between unions and school districts.