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Portland, Oregon colleges reach tentative agreement with college union, ending strike

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Portland Public Schools (PPS), Oregon’s largest public school district, announced Sunday that it has reached a tentative agreement with the Portland Association of Lecturers (PAT), ending a three-week strike.

In a press release, PAT said its tentative agreement with the school district includes “expanded language moving in the right direction in the direction of class sizes and caseloads, as well as new committees to discuss the increased class sizes, enhanced passing thresholds that cover new educator classifications, and a guarantee of 410 minutes of protected planning time to educators at every grade level.

The settlement also includes protections for educators and students from unsafe construction conditions and a three-year cost of living adjustment for educators as well.

There will also be increased access to mental health support groups for students across the district, the release said.

“This contract is a watershed moment for Portland’s students, families and educators,” PAT President Angela Bonilla said in a statement. “Educators saw improvements on all of our key points. These changes will make a huge difference on priorities like mental health supports for students, workload support for educators, and safe and welcoming school environments. Educators have been protesting alongside families, students and allies – and because of it, our schools are getting the additional funding they need.

PAT, which represents more than 4,000 educators, launched its strike against the university district earlier this month, highlighting its frustration with increasing class sizes, lack of classroom support and planning time , as well as low wages, according to the Associated Press.

The union is negotiating a brand new contract with the PPS since the previous one expired in June.

In contrast, the school district said it did not have sufficient funds to meet the union’s needs and demands. The state Legislature in June agreed to a record $10.2 billion K-12 budget for the next two years, but school district officials said it wasn’t enough, reported the AP.

“Members of the Portland Affiliation of Lecturers have worked tirelessly to ensure that students and educators have access to the positive, safe and healthy work and study environments they deserve. Through their collaborative efforts with parents, the school district and the community, they have ensured that students and scholars return to improved schools,” Nationwide Schooling Association (NEA) President Becky Pringle said in a statement.

“The unwavering commitment and unity demonstrated has not only strengthened Portland’s public schools, but also set an example for districts across the country. Once we come together and work together, we can create positive change and foster an environment in which scholars and students can thrive.

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