Parkrose, Gresham teachers vote to strike

Parkrose, Gresham teachers vote to strike

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by KGW Staff

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kgw.com

Posted on April 11, 2012 at 11:13 AM

Updated Thursday, Apr 12 at 7:29 PM

GRESHAM -- A vote to strike was reached Wednesday afternoon by unions representing teachers in the Gresham-Barlow and Parkrose school districts.

The Parkrose Faculty Association contends that the last district proposal further cuts their pay and added furlough days in the next five months as well. Parkrose has not yet decided when to strike.

"There's just less time because there are more students, less prep time and more district and state mandates.  We need more time to do our jobs," said Jennifer Handsaker with the Parkrose Faculty Association.

Teachers union officials said they were frustrated by the "lack of progress and respect" from the school board on the negotiations, which mentions issues such as planning time for instructors and elementary teachers being denied bathroom breaks.

More: Parkrose Faculty Association Facebook page

Superintendent Karen Fischer Gray said in a letter to staff and the community that the district has bargained in good faith, including mediation. Teacher compensation constitutes 68 percent of the budget and the district cannot move forward without the union coming to terms.

"I'm worried because I really don't know what is going to happen. We might not even have school," said student Brenda Hanson.  "That is not good because we really want to be in school."

More: Parkrose district letter to staff

The Gresham-Barlow Education Association contends that the district has taken away or shifted prep times without going through a collective bargaining process. The district also has not dealt with concerns about violent or medically fragile students.

A strike was planned for April 25, a source told KGW.

The impasse means both parties have seven days to submit final offers, then there’s a 30 day “cooling-off period” before final offers are submitted.

More: Gresham-Barlow Education Association website

Superintendent Jim Schlachter said in a prepared statement that the differences between the two sides can be settled without a strike. He said staffing adjustments were necessary to keep class sizes from increasing. Meeting union pay raise requests equals cutting 16 school days or 43 positions.

More: Gresham-Barlow district response to strike vote

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