This statement was just released by the Portland School Board on its contract negotiations with the Portland Association of Teachers:
After a tenth mediation session failed to produce a contract settlement Wednesday evening, the Portland School Board today announced that talks with the Portland Association of Teachers (PAT) have reached a point of impasse.
The declaration of impasse follows more than 19 months of bargaining, including the 10 negotiating sessions facilitated by a state mediator.
A declaration of impasse does not end the bargaining process. A 30-day cooling-off period follows the publication of final offers. The school board intends to continue to pursue talks during that time.
The school board's proposal reflects the school board's goals: to change provisions in the current teachers' association contract to remove barriers that hamper student learning.
The school board is also committed to keeping class sizes low and preserving jobs.
For the proposed 2008-2011contract, the school board is seeking:
Increases in the amount of time students can be in school, by changing the clause in the teacher's association contract that now limits the student school day to 6.5 hours. This would not change the length of time any teacher is expected to work in a day or week, but it would allow students to have a longer school day than they presently do.
Increased flexibility to meet student needs within the teacher workday. A proposal to allow teachers to perform duties during a portion of the two 15-minutes periods at the beginning and end of their paid workday, during which they currently cannot be required to perform duties (such as monitoring students who are on the playground or leaving school).
Definition of "competence" in the event of a lay-off. The school board seeks to modify current teachers' association contract language that now prioritizes seniority over recent teaching experience in a subject area (for example, now a teacher who has not taught math or science in the past three years would have greater rights to a position than a less senior teacher who is currently teaching those subjects). The school board's proposal would prioritize recent teaching experience, instead.
Fiscally responsible increases in teacher compensation. The school board's offer consists of step increases in each year of the contract (a 3 percent to 5 percent increase each year for eligible teachers); a 2 percent increase for all teachers in 2008-2009, no across-the-board increase in 2009-2010 and a 1 percent increase for senior teachers at the top step in 2010-2011.
That means over three years, all teachers would receive at least a 3 percent raise, while roughly half of teachers – those with less seniority – would earn larger raises, up to 12.76 percent.
Portland School Board co-chair Trudy Sargent, the school board's lead representative on the bargaining team, stated, "Even at a time when Oregonians are suffering unprecedented financial hardship – and full funding for schools is still not guaranteed – we have put an offer on the table that is fair to our teachers and responsible to families and taxpayers. This offer demonstrates our flexibility and good faith throughout the bargaining process."
Contract talks have dragged out as a result of a dramatically changing economic environment.
Even with voter approval of Measures 66 and 67, Portland Public Schools faces a potential reduction of $17.7 million for the 2010-2011 school year, based on the biennial reduction in state school funding. An additional $15 million is at risk if forecasted state revenue does not meet predictions and reductions in the state school fund are triggered.
The school board has not sought changes to teacher health coverage. Portland Public Schools would continue to pay 93 percent of teacher's health coverage premiums (teachers pay 7 percent of premiums), without caps on school district contributions to teacher health care premiums (all other PPS employee groups have caps on school district contributions.)
The school board has also proposed no furlough days for teachers, or other district employees, if state funding remains stable.
However, if budgeted state school funding for PPS is cut by $5 million to $10 million or more (due to changes based on upcoming state revenue forecasts), the school district proposes the possibility of 1 or 2 furlough days for all PPS staff this school year.
During on-going negotiations with the PAT, contract provisions regarding employee protections and benefits have remained in force.
Both sides are now required to publish full final offers within 7 days, or no later than February 11.
Director Sargent said, "We look forward to sharing our final offer with our teachers and our community, and discussing the barriers to settlement. We are firmly committed to reaching a negotiated settlement and we will continue to exhaust all avenues to reach one."