Portland teachers and administrators signed a tentative agreement tonight (Tuesday), clearing the way for approval of a new contract for teachers.
The two sides announced the suspension of a planned teachers strike, early Tuesday morning, after a marathon bargaining session.
Portland Association of Teachers president, Gwen Sullivan, has been involved in contract talks for more than ten months. She’s looking forward to presenting a tentative agreement to her members.
Sullivan said, “From the beginning we have talked about this contract being different - and that this was about fighting for our students, for our kids. Bringing this back to them, I feel like it is a strong first step toward making things better in the classroom.”
Details of the agreement are not being shared.
Some of the biggest sticking points have related to class size, length of the school year, and early retirement incentives.
For the contract to go from “tentative” to “final,” teachers have to ratify the deal, and school board members have to vote their approval.
Teachers go first. The union says leaders are still working out that process. Teachers don’t have to all meet in one place like they did for the strike vote, but the extent and complexity of the contract changes mean P-A-T could have to hold a lot of lengthy meetings with teachers, to answer everybody’s questions.
For Portland students, no strike means school will be in session on Thursday. In the end, the strike preparations - teachers taking their things out of classrooms, the district contacting substitutes, parents looking for childcare – proved to be just precautions.