PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Portland Association of Teachers and Portland Public School district leaders are returning to the bargaining table Friday while teachers are back on the picket lines and classes are still canceled.
With the strike now on day three, parents are now questioning whether there is an end in sight. Bargaining is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, but if no deal is reached this weekend, picketing will continue early Monday.
Students generally were not sent home with much, if any, schoolwork, although the district said laptops were offered.
Childcare resources are being offered by the Boys and Girls Clubs in the Portland area who said they are providing community-based programs that are usually on school campuses, academic, social and emotional support, as well as food for club members impacted by the strike.
Parents told KOIN 6 that this time off and uncertainty of when school will start again is reminiscent of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It almost has a little of this PTSD feel to it because we all remember how traumatic it was and didn’t know how long it was going to last,” said Michelle Romanick, a PPS parent. “It’s just this big curiosity of how long will this strike go on for.”
Governor Tina Kotek posted a public statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, sharing her focus on reaching a resolution.
“I continue to push for a resolution to the ongoing strike that delivers a fair contract for educators at Portland Public Schools,” said Kotek. “I have asked Superintendent Guerrero to have members of the PPS school board join the mediation session this Friday to help refocus the conversation. It’s going to take everyone working together to resolve this.”
At the bargaining table Friday, both the district and teachers state they are willing to negotiate into the night, or even through the weekend.
“We as an administration are going to do more than are proportional share to identify budget reductions, cost efficiency and contribute to the resources that we have available to take care of all of our employees,” stated PPS Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero.
Meanwhile, teachers, parents students and other supporters marched from Lincoln High School Friday afternoon to a rally outside City Hall. Teachers say they are united in holding out for their demands from the district and that they want city leaders to pressure the district to come up with the money.
Katia Fleischman said she’s in an interesting position as a PPS parent and PPS teacher.
She says language immersion programs – like the Russian one her daughter is in at Kelly Elementary, and the Japanese program she teaches at Richmond – need smaller class sizes and more planning time to ensure teachers and students have what they need, especially after staff are cut.
“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.”
Some state lawmakers including the Senate President sent a letter to PPS leaders accusing them of underfunding classrooms and overspending on administration compared to other districts.
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. As for school on Monday, the district says it will notify families before 7 p.m. Sunday night as to what’s ahead.