PORTLAND – Portland Public Schools canceled its board meeting Friday in wake of a snow storm that's paralyzing the metro area. Officials were scheduled to discuss an impending teachers strike and a new meeting was set for Monday at 6 p.m.
On Wednesday night, teachers voted to strike in a closed-door union meeting at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.
Background: Portland teachers vote to walk out Feb. 20
A spokesman for the Portland Association of Teachers told KGW the vote was nearly unanimous.
Teachers are required to give the district at least 10 working days notice before they could walk off the job. They voted to set the walkout date for Thursday, Feb. 20.
“No teacher ever wants to go on strike, we want to be in classrooms with our students,” said PAT president Gwen Sullivan.
If the district’s teachers walk off the job, it would be the first time in Portland history.
Portland School Board Co-Chairs Pam Knowles and Greg Belisle said they were "very disappointed" that the PAT voted to authorize a strike.
The next mediation session with PPS is set for Sunday, Feb. 9. If a contract deal is reached, the walkout would be canceled.
On Feb. 1, PPS released its mediation proposal to teachers.
But Sullivan said the teachers feel the latest contract offer still does not address class size relief or support the students and schools who need it most. She said it also does not provide fair compensation and would force them to "teach to the test."
The district has roughly 2,900 teachers and 48,000 students.
In a letter to parents sent out before the strike vote, PPS Superintendent Carol Smith promised that the district was making preparations to keep classes going and that negotiations with teachers would continue.
“Our goal is to reach an agreement that adds teachers to schools, adds school days, raises teacher pay and maintains strong benefits,“ Smith said.
PPS has been notifying their contracted substitute teachers that work will be available if a strike occurs. The teachers union has complained that PPS is pressuring substitutes to cross the picket line.