Portland Schools and Teachers Union Forge Compromise After Month-Long Strike

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Portland’s biggest school district hinted at a potential resolution with its teachers’ union after over three weeks of closure in a Sunday night announcement.

This compromise marks the return of around 45,000 students to classrooms on Monday. 

However, the deal remains contingent upon voting by the teachers’ union members and approval from the school board.

The teachers had been on strike since November 1, advocating for improved pay, reduced class sizes, and increased planning time. Despite the pending votes, both parties agreed to resume classes while awaiting final ratification. 

Students from Portland Public Schools faced an 11-day hiatus before commencing their weeklong Thanksgiving break.

Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero expressed relief at the students’ return, acknowledging the challenges everyone faced during the prolonged absence. Guerrero emphasized, “Being out of school for the last three weeks missing classmates, teachers, and learning has been hard for everyone.”

Portland’s Education Agreement Transformation

portland-schools-and-teachers-union-forge-compromise-after-month-long-strike
Portland’s biggest school district hinted at a potential resolution with its teachers’ union after over three weeks of closure in a Sunday night announcement.

The tentative deal, lauded by both the district and the teachers’ union, addresses critical issues such as classroom size, teacher salaries, health and safety measures, and enhanced mental health support for students coping with pandemic-related difficulties. 

To compensate for missed days, adjustments in the academic calendar involve reducing a week from the winter break and adding instructional days in the new year.

Portland Teachers Association President Angela Bonilla hailed the agreement as transformative, emphasizing the collective efforts of educators, families, students, and allies during the strike. Bonilla remarked, “Educators have secured improvements on all our key issues…our schools are getting the added investment they need.”

The proposed agreement offers educators a 13.8% cumulative cost-of-living increase over three years, with nearly half receiving an additional 10.6% from yearly step increases. It also promises additional classroom time for elementary and middle grades and increased teacher planning time for these classrooms.

While the district previously cited financial constraints, Oregon lawmakers’ approval of a record $10.2 billion K-12 budget for the next two years was deemed insufficient by school representatives. 

The district urges voters to advocate for increased state funding while anticipating necessary budget cuts to accommodate the concessions made to the teachers’ union.

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