Portland Public Schools and the Portland Association of Teachers announced a tentative agreement March 3 on a new contract for the 2011-13 school years.
In a time of continued and unprecedented economic constraints, the tentative agreement holds significant promise for improved student achievement by supporting effective teaching through new teacher evaluation tools developed by a joint labor-management group. It also includes cost savings that would help schools stabilize educational programs and preserve classes for students.
The savings included in the tentative agreement would blunt a portion of the school district’s projected budget gap of more than $40 million for the next school year. Educators in Portland Public Schools already pay a portion of their health premiums and contribute to retirement benefits.
Further details of the agreement will be released following a ratification vote by the association’s 3,500 teachers, librarians, counselors, school psychologists and other educators, and approval by the Portland School Board.
Bargaining teams began meeting Jan. 25. The two sides held their first public bargaining session Feb. 15. Work groups on teacher evaluation and workload have been meeting weekly since October.
Superintendent Carole Smith said: “I am pleased that we have been able to reach a tentative agreement that reflects the collaborative progress we have made over the past several months on teacher evaluation and teacher workload. The only way we will make dramatic gains in student achievement, and responsibly manage our limited resources, is by working together in the interests of our students.”
Portland Association of Teachers President Rebecca Levison said, “This agreement demonstrates that, while not always easy, collective bargaining and collaboration are an effective means to meet the needs of teachers and students.”
School board Chair Pam Knowles said, “In difficult economic times, it is important for us to come together to reach an agreement that places our highest value on our students, while recognizing the vital role our educators play in our students’ education.”
School district and association leadership shared outlines of the agreement with local leaders.
“I believe this agreement is a clear sign that PPS and PAT value strong teachers and improving student achievement and that they understand the economic environment we live in,” said Portland Mayor Sam Adams.
“Given the state of our economy and the needs of our children," said Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen, "this looks like a fair deal for all of us and shows collective fiscal responsibility.”