PORTLAND -- Representatives from the teachers union and school district resumed talks with a mediator Tuesday in hopes of resolving the sticking points in their contract negotiations.
As the clock ticked down to a looming strike, the district said it planned to shut down classes for three days if teachers walk out. A schedule released for the week of Feb. 17 includes the shut down for what it termed "staff training" as substitutes are brought into schools.
If an agreement isn't reached, there would be no classes on Thursday, Feb. 20 through the following Monday. The calendar then shows the district would "prioritize opening elementary, middle and PK/K-8 schools" on February 25, "with high schools to follow."
Teachers said they went into negotiations this week offering the district a fair proposal.
“This proposal package builds upon past compromises teachers have offered the district," said Bill Wilson of the Portland Association of Teachers. "We believe this proposal package is fair for teachers and good for kids."
Wilson said the proposal pushes for hiring more teachers to reduce classroom overcrowding and asks that teachers get access to a "true cost-of-living" salary increase.
Christine Miles of the Portland School District stated that the district presented their own updated proposal to teachers Monday.
"The district has been clear for the last few weeks that we have a mediation proposal on the table," Miles said. "Our mediation proposal from January 8 has been updated and was presented today. It is responsive to the work done with the teachers union on the January 16 and again on the January 31. It is still on the table."
Portland has the state's largest school district with 48,000 students and 2,900 teachers.