PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Representatives for the Portland teachers and the Portland Public Schools met again on Monday in another contract negotiation to end the first-ever teachers strike in the district.
Both sides met throughout the weekend to try and get closer on pay increases, more planning time and smaller class sizes. The stalemate has closed Portland public schools since November 1.
PPS Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero said either the district needs more money from the state or has to make deeper cuts. He said their current proposal cuts $51 million over 3 years.
If they got rid of the PPS main office, which accounts for 5% of the overall budget, it wouldn’t be enough to cover the cost of the Portland Association of Teachers demands.
“It is true it would need to come from those other areas. And that’s where we are torn with striking a balance, because what I’m not willing to do is give up our students’ quality school experience,” Guerrero said Monday. “I think we all think our students should receive a well-rounded education. I think they should all have a pass, a library and extracurriculars and athletics.”
A group of Portland-area state lawmakers held a news conference in Salem on Monday to make it clear no more money is coming from the state to try and help find a solution to this strike.
“It is not one where we go in and we say, ‘Portland Public gets this much and Monmouth gets that much and Salem Kaiser gets this much,'” one of the lawmakers said. “We provide an amount that gets each school to an identical amount of funding per student based on formulas. And then it’s up to the districts to figure that out.”
Teachers and their supporters will continue their daily morning picket lines outside schools and the district administration building. On Monday they picketed outside Cleveland High School, Prophet Center, Woodlawn Elementary and at Peninsula Park.
“We’ll continue to reconvene through the through the week and the weekend, if necessary,” Guerrero said. “Whatever it takes to arrive at a resolution and get our children back in school.”
PPS officials alerted parents around 7 p.m. Monday that classes are canceled for Tuesday. 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.