The school district stated it is available to continue meeting with the mediator. PPS’ Chief Human Resources Officer Sean Murray said, “PPS continued to make meaningful proposals in order to reach a negotiated settlement that is in the best interests of Portland’s students. After close to 7 months of bargaining, Portland’s families deserve to have both parties working to find common ground.”
New salary offer
The new 3 year offer would provide cost-of-living increases totaling 5 percent over a three year contract for all 2,800 PPS teachers. This would keep salaries at the high end among Portland area school districts when adjusted for PPS teachers’ shorter workday.
Under the school district’s new offer, teachers would receive the following:
- 2 percent cost-of-living increase effective no later than December 16, 2013.
- 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase effective July 1,2014.
- 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase effective July 1, 2015.
The school district previously had offered a 4 percent COLA over 4 years.
The PPS proposal is in line with increases in state and local revenue, and would enable the school district to hire teachers and reduce class size. PAT has proposed a 9.5 percent cost-of-living increase over two years. That would raise salaries for current teachers by $154 million, with no increase in instructional days, instructional hours or the work year.
In addition, eligible teachers would receive seniority step increases, which equal a salary increase of 2 percent to 5 percent each year (approximately half of PPS teachers receive step increases each year).
PPS proposes collaborative work group on work load
The PPS team also proposed that the two sides form a committee to develop a definition of workload.
This collaborative workgroup would examine all of the elements of workload including class size to make proposals that would best meet student needs. The work group would be comprised of 5 representatives appointed by the superintendent and 5 representatives appointed by PAT.
Negotiations have continued for nearly 7 months
Negotiations are proceeding with the help of a state mediator, who was called in after the two sides failed to reach a contract agreement after 180 days of traditional bargaining. After the school district requested mediation on September 15, 2013, PPS met with PAT in two additional sessions of negotiations. Mediation began on October 14, 2013; two sessions were held on November 4, 2013 and November 5, 2013.
School board priorities
The school district will continue to seek changes to the PAT contract to help schools produce better results for students:
- Adding three school days for students, which would mean two additional workdays for teachers. This will help PPS increase learning time and improve the graduation rate. School staff would be compensated for additional workdays (approximately 1% in additional salary for teachers).
- Adopting the state’s definition of competence when laying off teachers.
- Adding planning time for elementary grade teachers and maintaining planning time for middle school and high school teachers.
- Streamlining the hiring process to make it easier for PPS to recruit high-quality teaching candidates.
- Controlling benefits costs to put more dollars into hiring teachers. PPS would limit its annual insurance subsidy to more than $17,000 per teacher in the third year of the contract. It also would end early retirement benefits freeing up approximately $5 million to improve learning opportunities for students.