For the first time in its history, Portland Public Schools, Oregon’s largest school district, has been shut down due to a teachers’ strike. The strike, which began on Wednesday, was triggered by unsuccessful contract negotiations between the district and the Portland Association of Teachers. The strike impacts over 80 schools, excluding charter schools.
Teachers and supporters began picketing early Wednesday morning, demanding better working conditions, including more planning time, pest-free and mold-free buildings, and classrooms with reasonable temperatures. The strike is expected to last several hours each day.
The district has maintained that the union’s demands are financially unfeasible. The district’s own offer would necessitate at least $45 million in budget cuts over the next three years, while the union’s proposal would require an estimated $277 million in cuts over the same period.
Despite the district’s plea for the union to call off the strike, PAT leadership has stated that there has been no progress on key issues such as cost-of-living increases, class size limits, and student mental health support. They also claim that the district’s latest proposal removes previously agreed upon language regarding special education.
The strike is expected to continue at least until Thursday, unless an agreement is reached. If the strike extends through Friday, report cards will be delayed.
Read more at Oregon Public Broadcasting.