PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — All day negotiations ended without a new deal for Portland teachers in their historic, first-ever strike against the Portland Public School District.
Representatives from the district and the Portland Association of Teachers sat down at the bargaining table at Portland Community College on Saturday, but wrapped up for the night around 6 p.m.
The teachers’ union said if no deal is reached this weekend, picketing will continue early Monday. Negotiations are expected to resume at 9 a.m. Sunday.
PPS maintains it can’t give teachers what they want without more money from the state, but state lawmakers say they gave a record $10.3 billion to Oregon schools.
“We have built up a fund balance of reserve. There’s currently about $105 million in there,” PPS Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero said. “We had already planned and are currently spending half of that amount to maintain the number of employees we have this school year.”
Currently, PPS requires 320 planning minutes per week. They’ve proposed 400 planning minutes per week, while the teachers union wants 440 planning minutes.
That would require hiring more teachers.
Teacher Katia Fleischman told KOIN 6 News bigger class sizes are affecting student’s learning.
“They’re still asking a lot and we’re at capacity. We don’t have the capacity,” Fleischman said. “I don’t want to go home at the end of the day feeling like I haven’t done my job. No teacher does.”
PAT President Angela Bonilla said in a statement they “are encouraged by the improved dialogue on key issues in negotiations today, but PPS management has a long way to go to get our students what they need, settle this contract and get educators and students back into the classrooms.”
PPS officials said the minimum teacher salary under the current contract is $50,020 per year. The maximum is $97,333, based on education level and years of experience.
“We will work as much as we need to to arrive at a fair settlement that honors their work but also makes sure we’re fiscally responsible to continue to operate a premier school system in Oregon,” Guerrero said.
As for school on Monday, the district says it will notify families before 7 p.m. Sunday night as to what’s ahead.
For the duration of the strike, the Boys and Girls clubs in the Portland area are providing community-based programs that are usually on school campuses. These include academic, social, and emotional support, as well as food for club members impacted by the strike. As of now, they have space available but parents and guardians need to contact them to be part of their programs.
In addition, Blanchet House is welcoming students and families to help the community by volunteering with them. They have various ways students can help from home or on-site at their service center in Downtown Portland, from making sack lunches to serving meals in their free café.
This is a developing story. Stay with KOIN 6 News for more updates.