ST. PAUL, Minn. - The St. Paul Federation of Teachers (SPFT) has turned up the pressure in ongoing contract negotiations, setting a strike date if no agreement is reached with St. Paul Public Schools.

Teachers have set a strike date of Feb. 13. Last week, over 85 percent of union members voted to participate in a strike if a settlement was not reached.

“This is not an action we take lightly," said Erica Schatzlein, SPFT Vice President and a teacher at Nokomis Montessori, in a press release. "As educators, we want to be in the classroom with our students. If leaders in Saint Paul Public Schools are unwilling to prioritize our students’ needs, teachers are going to stand up for our students.”

Schatzlein said SPPS has not done enough to help students who are English Learners (EL), and the union wants more educators to work with those students to bring the district into compliance with state standards.

The union also still wants to discuss lowering class sizes and adding staff to help special education students, among other issues.

If teachers do strike, SPFT members have started to plan "Safe Sites" for students if schools are not available.

Talks between SPFT and SPPS are scheduled to continue through the weekend with a state appointed mediator.