PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Two weeks ago teachers in the Portland Public School District went on strike for higher pay, more planning time and smaller classes. Despite the ongoing negotiations with the Portland Association of Teachers there does not appear to be an imminent end to the strike.
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 difference between what teachers want and what the district says it can afford is more of a chasm than a gap.
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.
For now, parents seem to support the striking teachers — to a point. But parents, like Molly Boyl and Audrey Abernathy, are beginning to feel the pinch that having their students home indefinitely creates.
“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,” parent Molly 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.”
KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story.