Portland Public Schools' tentative agreement with its teachers union, the Portland Association of Teachers, includes a salary increase for the district's most veteran teachers in the second year of the proposed two-year contract.
That pay bump comes in the form of a new "step" on the teachers' salary schedule and translates to a 2 percent raise for teachers with more than 12 years of teaching experience. That group includes almost 50 percent of the district's 3,000-plus teachers.
Under the current formula that the district uses to calculate teachers' salaries, educators earn extra pay for extra years of service. But right now those "steps" stop at year 12. The new contract, which was hashed out in a matter of weeks and before the two parties ever exchanged public proposals, adds a 13th step to the salary schedule in the 2012 school year, raising the salary of a typical teacher with more than 12 years of experience and a master's degree from $62,940 to $64,199.
The agreement offers no across-the-board cost-of-living increases in either year. Because prior agreements between PPS and PAT also offered no cost-of-living increases in certain years, many veteran teachers at the top steps haven't seen their wages increase significantly in recent years. This latest agreement appears to recognize that.
A spokesman for the school district and the president of the teacher's union both declined to discuss the proposed agreement on Thursday afternoon. Teachers have yet to ratify the tentative deal, which must go to the Portland School Board for a vote. That vote is expected next week.
It remains unclear how these raises may affect the school district's worsening bottom line. A very rough calculation by WW puts the annual cost of this extra "step" at $1.9 million, the equivalent of 19 teaching jobs. As of February, the school district faced a potential budget shortfall of $85 million over two years because of the state's funding crisis.