Portland Public Schools (PPS), Oregon’s largest public school district, announced Sunday that it has reached a tentative agreement with the Portland Association of Teachers (PAT), ending a three-week strike.
In a news release, PAT said its tentative agreement with the school district includes “expanded language on target class sizes and caseloads including new committees to discuss growing class sizes, improved overage thresholds that cover new classifications of educators, and a guarantee of 410 minutes of protected planning time for educators at every grade level.”
The agreement also includes protection for educators and students from unsafe building conditions and a 3-year cost-of-living adjustment for educators as well.
There will also be increased access to mental health support teams for students throughout the district, the news release said.
“This contract is a watershed moment for Portland students, families, and educators,” PAT President Angela Bonilla said in a statement. “Educators have secured improvements on all our key issues. These changes will make a huge difference on priorities like mental health supports for students, educator workload relief, and safe and welcoming school environments. Educators walked picket lines alongside families, students, and allies — and because of that, our schools are getting the added investment they need.”
PAT, which represents more than 4,000 educators, launched its strike against the school district earlier this month, noting their frustration with growing class sizes, lack of classroom support and planning time, and low wages, according to the Associated Press.
The union has been bargaining for a new contract with PPS since their previous one expired in June.
In contrast, the school district has said that it did not have enough funds to fulfill the union’s needs and demands. The state legislature in June approved a record $10.2 billion K-12 budget for the next two years, but school district representatives said that wasn’t enough, the AP reported.
“The members of the Portland Association of Teachers have worked tirelessly to ensure that students and educators have access to the positive, safe, and healthy working and learning environments they deserve. Through their collaborative efforts with parents, the school district, and the community, they have guaranteed that students and teachers return to improved schools,” National Education Association (NEA) President Becky Pringle said in a statement.
“The steadfast dedication and unity shown have not only strengthened Portland Public Schools but have set a powerful example to districts across the nation. When we organize and work together, we can create positive change and foster an environment where teachers and students alike can thrive.”
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