Portland Public Schools provided its teachers union with a proposed settlement Monday afternoon that included a compromise on the cost of living adjustment, but modified a union proposal that gave parents a say in resolving class size issues.
The district’s proposal would delay the start of winter break until Dec. 23 and extend the school year by three days to June 14 to make up for the 11 days of school missed by students since the strike began on November, 1st.
The additional instructional days would make up for work missed by educators in November, allowing them to keep their district-provided health insurance in December, the proposal states.
The proposal would cost $171 million over three years, up from $147 million proposed by the district a week ago, and would require the district to make more than $120 million in cuts, district officials said.
Cost of living increases for teachers would amount to 13.8% over three years. Teachers would receive a 6.25% raise in the first year, 4% in the second year and 3% in the final year of the contract. That’s up from the 10.9 percent cost-of-living increase proposed by the district last week, but down from the 18 percent requested by union negotiators.
It was not immediately clear whether the union would support the district’s proposal or when the two sides would return to the negotiating table. A union spokesperson told The Oregonian/OregonLive Monday afternoon that the union had not yet had time to review the proposal, which the district sent out at 1 p.m.
The district’s proposal comes after a marathon bargaining session that lasted all night Sunday ended abruptly Monday morning after an apparent breakdown in communication between district and union negotiators.
The parties had agreed on 17 articles of the contract since Thursday and only a few key points remained to be resolved when negotiations broke down Monday morning.
The Portland Teachers Association has accused Portland school board members of rejecting a settlement recommendation agreed to by the union and district. However, board members said the proposal was not a mutually agreed upon final settlement and that they could not agree to a union plan that would allow parents to help resolve problems of class size at the individual or class level.
The union proposed forming “class size” committees that would negotiate conditions for students to join classes when they have already reached a particular threshold, from 24 in kindergarten to 28 in fifth grade, or when a middle or high school teacher is designated. more than 150 students or 160 students, respectively.
Committees could recommend that a reading specialist spend more time working with children in a higher-threshold class or that a teaching assistant be hired. District officials said including parents on these committees raised concerns about federal education privacy laws because these committees could discuss what kind of support each student would need in the classroom and parents should not be involved in making decisions about other people’s children.
Language in the Portland Teachers Association’s latest proposal Sunday night made parent participation on those committees optional — if teachers and school administrators agreed parents should be involved — spokespeople confirmed union and district.
Still, board members were concerned about whether parents would have access to students’ personal information, which they said would run afoul of student privacy laws.
“As a parent, there are things regarding my children that I feel are very private to our family and to each student and I think most parents feel that way,” said Julia Brim-Edwards, member of the board of directors, during a press conference on Monday.
The district’s latest proposal instead calls for the creation of optional schoolwide class size committees, which would include two parents who would be prohibited from discussing students’ personally identifiable information.
The proposal also maintains a 3% increase in base salary that teachers receive for each student in their class or workload that exceeds agreed-upon thresholds. The union proposed last week to increase this excess compensation to 5% for the first student above the threshold and 10% for each additional student at the primary school, as well as similar increases for five students added at the intermediate and secondary.
Districtwide, only 14 percent of elementary school classes are so large that the teachers union says educators should receive extra pay to shoulder such a heavy load.
Sami Edge covers higher education for The Oregonian. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or (503) 260-3430.
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