PORTLAND -- The Portland Public School District and the Portland Association of Teachers finished negotiations late Thursday with no new talks scheduled for Friday.
The teachers union emerged Thursday afternoon from all-day talks to announce it had found a financially plausible way to reduce class size and teacher workload. A union official said it's an attractive proposal with concessions.
The union provided a formula to move budget money around and hire 175 new teachers district-wide to reduce class size. PAT president Gwen Sullivan said class size is the union's main sticking point in contract negotiations that have stretched on for nine months.
Teachers and the district are trying to come to terms on a 3-year contract, without going to a strike.
"Teachers, students and parents know that the status quo in our schools is unacceptable," Sullivan said. "From the beginning of this contract bargain, Portland teachers have been fighting for the schools our students deserve. Students deserve smaller classes. They deserve personalized instruction to help them achieve."
The district wants to maintain flexibility on class size, rather than put a number in a contract, because the amount of money coming from Salem each year fluctuates.
Sullivan said the teachers union can agree on salary and health insurance fairly easily. Another priority beyond reducing class size is keeping an early retirement benefit that the district wants to eliminate.
A state mediator is scheduled to work with both sides until 9 p.m. Thursday night. The teachers union has cleared their schedule for talks Friday and Saturday if need be.
KGW reporter Nina Mehlhaf contributed to this report.