PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As the Portland teachers strike turns into one of the longest in years on the West Coast, parents are beginning to feel the pinch that having their students home indefinitely creates.
To be clear, there are still thousands of parents who still support the strike, like Molly Boyl. But it is weighing on them as well, stopping their work to take care of their kids.
“We have credit card debt like a lot of other people. I mean, we’re just digging the hole deeper. So, you know, we already paid for our childcare for November, so that money is gone, and the child care is not there because it took place in the school,” Boyl told KOIN 6 News. “I’m hoping for a resolution as quickly as possible, but not at the expense of, you know, quality schools for our kids and fair wages for our teachers.”
“I am prepared physically, but mentally and keeping my children in the know of what they need to know and what they need to learn is a lot,” parent Audrey Abernathy said. “But at the same time, we want it to go as long as it needs to go to get the answers.”
Parents already know their students will be out of school all next week for the Thanksgiving break. Many parents are now wondering about how the missed days of school will be made up.
The answer remains to be seen. Days could be added, in-year vacations could be shortened, minutes could be added to the school day — all options are on the table. But that won’t be decided until after a contract deal is reached — and teachers will get to decide which option to use.
The Portland Public School District and the Portland Association of Teachers met again Tuesday in another attempt at breaking the stalemate. The district said there is a $211 million gap between what they’re offering and what the teachers union wants.
The union wants the district to spend more from its reserve fund, more from corporate tax money it gets from the state and make more cuts to district administration.
One of the biggest sticking points is capping class sizes. PPS said it would cost more than $100 million over the next 2 years to hire an additional 352 teachers under the PAT proposal. The district is offering to lower class sizes by just one student in the grades 1-5 for a few million dollars.
Late Monday night, PPS released an update with their calculations about the cost of PAT’s proposal.
The PPS estimates show the union plan would cost $358 million.
“It is disappointing to see these proposals on the heels of our work last week with the State’s Chief Financial Officer. Her team identified only $12.4 million more that we could have available for next school year,” PPS officials said in the release. “$12.4 million is significantly less than that $211 million gap that separates us.”
KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story.