PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland Public Schools announced Wednesday afternoon that classes would be cancelled both Thursday and Friday as Wednesday marks one week since thousands of students have been out of the classroom.
Gov. Tina Kotek’s office has directed mediation as the teachers’ strike continues, and the Oregon Chief Financial Office has also stepped in to take a hard look at the finances to find a common ground.
In a statement to KOIN 6, Portland Public Schools Chief of Staff Jonathan Garcia said they “hope this path accelerates the settling of this contract and gets our children back in school.”
On Wednesday, PPS sent a statement that their financial team met with the Department of Administrative Services’ CFO to answer questions about their budget.
“Today was a productive day of work for our bargaining team. We shared two proposals with our mediator and the Portland Association of Teachers,” PPS said in the statement. “We will meet again in-person tomorrow, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday — and we remain eager that we can reopen our schools to students on Monday.”
Teachers say they’re also hopeful now that the state and school board have stepped in.
“If what we’re trying to do is not working with the people that we have, please bring us resources,” teacher Darshanpreet Gill said. “We want to settle this. We want to be back in our classrooms and teaching. If you’re going to bring resources that are going to get that done and it’s around finances.”
And while the district works on counter proposals behind closed doors, members of the Portland Association of Teachers and their supporters marched in solidarity through Northeast Portland.
PAT Vice President Jacque Dixon said the community has come through to support their teachers by knocking on more than 10,000 doors and writing up to 60,000 letters to their school board.
“I’m energized, excited that our community has been behind us this whole time, and also hopeful that we can come to a settlement soon at the table,” Dixon said. “I just want our community to know and our parents to know that we appreciate the advocacy, and it’s working.”
Teachers were back on the picket line outside of schools early in the morning before heading to a rally outside PAT headquarters. The mood was light with music, dancing, and an appearance by Caesar the No Drama Llama, but teachers say they’re ready for a deal so they can get back to class.
“I’m feeling the sense of community growing stronger and stronger, but I’m also feeling the frustration that schools are still not open, growing stronger,” Gill said. “We don’t know why the district is still not coming with proposals that we can at least find some compromise in. The solidarity is there, but the anger is also starting to build.”.
Stay with KOIN 6 as this story develops.