Portland Public Schools
Portland Association of Teachers
possible strike
cannot even decide what to negotiate.
Portland Public Schools announced today that contract talks with the Portland Association of Teachers (PAT) are at impasse. The announcement comes with the two sides far apart on major issues after seven months of negotiations. At this time, more than $200 million separates the two sides’ compensation offers. Since bargaining started, the school district has sought contract changes that would help all students attain high academic standards, regardless of race or class. PPS’ offer would: Lengthen the school year by three days and the teacher work year by two days. Make competence a more important factor in teacher assignment and layoff. Streamline hiring to make PPS more competitive for high-quality candidates. Maintain teacher workloads at existing levels through 2015-16 while a work group studies the issue. Provide pay and benefits that are in line with revenue and competitive with other school districts. This will enable PPS to hire more teachers and reduce class sizes. “We hope impasse will spur both sides to address these issues and reach a settlement in a timely manner,” said Sean Murray, PPS chief human resources officer. “Contract talks that go on for months or years disrupt schools and hurt students.”
Gwen Sullivan
This morning, the Portland School Board walked away from mediation with teachers by unilaterally calling for impasse. The School Board’s dangerous action pushes Portland Public Schools one step closer to a strike. This comes at a time when the two sides had been making progress and moving closer together on critical issues in the contract.   “The School Board’s actions are dangerous and reckless. The Board is sending a clear message that they would rather force a strike and shut the schools doors on our students than work together with teachers,” said Gwen Sullivan, President of the Portland Association of Teachers (PAT). “As we enter into the holiday season, the Board’s gift to Portland students and their families is a huge lump of coal. Their actions threaten the future of our public schools.”In the School Board’s proposal, they continue to insist upon gutting all current workload language in the contract which would remove caps on how many students teachers have in the class or in their care. It would also give the district unilateral ability to slash the time teachers need to prepare for and meet independently with their students and force teachers to teach to the test.  “The School Board has not only walked away from Portland’s teachers. They’re abandoning our students by refusing to address the very real challenges our schools are facing,” said Bill Wilson, Grant High science teacher and PAT bargaining chair. “Portland teachers want to find solutions to our class size crisis and the growing inequity in our neighborhood schools. The district wants to push us to strike.”   “The School Board’s high-priced and high-stakes strategy has pushed contract negotiations with Portland teachers into dangerous new territory that could do terrible damage to our schools, students and the larger community,” said Sullivan. “They are creating a false crisis and in the end it’s the students and this community who will be harmed.”   The Portland Association of Teachers represents more than 3,000 classroom teachers, school counselors and other educators working on the frontlines with students.