PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The week-old Portland teachers strike shows no sign of ending quickly despite another all-day bargaining session between the district and the teachers union.
The contentious points are pay increases for teachers, more planning time and smaller class sizes. The stalemate has closed Portland public schools since November 1.
Tuesday, the head of the Portland School Board and other board members were at the negotiations to learn more about the financial issues involved. The district bargaining team said they don’t have the money to meet the teachers’ demands, while the teachers said the money can be found in the district budget.
Portland Association of Teachers President Angela Bonilla said it was important for the board members to be at the bargaining session because “they’re the ones who ratified the contracts on the district side. They’re also the ones who pulled the strings to the purse, right? So they can decided what type of money can or can’t be invested in the demands that we have.”
There is also a plan to have the state’s chief financial officer go through the budget and share their findings so both sides have a better take on what money is available.
But the state mediator who is working with both sides has to be at another dispute elsewhere in the state for the next few days.
In a statement late Tuesday night, PPS officials thanked the mediator for her support in recent weeks.
“After two days of productive conversations, our bargaining team will use tomorrow (Wednesday) to refine counter proposals. We plan to share these electronically with our mediator and PAT to keep the process moving, and have confirmed plans to meet in-person again on Thursday if we do not settle the contract tomorrow,” the PPS statement said.
On Tuesday night, the PPS Board of Education will be holding its regularly scheduled board meeting and will be accepting comments from union partners. The board meeting will be streamed online.
PPS officials alerted parents before 8 p.m. Tuesday that classes were canceled for Wednesday. There is already no school scheduled for Friday, which is Veterans Day.
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.