The Portland Public Schools board voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve a contract with its teachers union, ending a weekslong teachers’ strike that kept students out of the classroom for most of November.
The vote from the school board comes just hours after the Portland Association of Teachers announced that more than 90% of its members voted to ratify the agreement, Fox 12 reported.
The primary point of discussion at the school board meeting centered around the days students will need to make up after missing weeks of instruction because of the strike. The district said the 11 makeup days would be on December 18, December 19, December 20, December 21, December 22, January 26, February 19, April 8, June 12, June 13 and June 14.
Teachers have been on strike since Nov. 1 over concerns about pay, class sizes and planning time. The Portland Association of Teachers, representing more than 4,000 educators, said this was the first teachers’ strike in the district.
The last day the district’s 45,000 students attended school was Halloween and there was no online education during the strike. Students returned to school on Monday after a tentative agreement was reached on Sunday evening.
Students were already scheduled to be out of school last week for Thanksgiving break.
“The good news is we have dates for every missed day,” Portland Public Schools Chief of Human Resources Sharon Reese told Fox 12 on Tuesday. “The challenge is that the strike lasted so long there are only bad and worse options for staff, students, and families.”
Reese explained that the district prioritized adding full school days to the calendar instead of extending each day by 15 minutes.
“It’s not workable,” said Reese. “It would not have made up for the lost time, which is currently over 3,600 minutes and would have caused significant and maybe even unresolvable scheduling issues.”
The district also wanted to frontload makeup days at the end of the first semester instead of adding more days to the second semester and overextending the school year.
“This current semester is also our seniors’ 7th semester,” Reese said. “7th semester grades and course completion is tied heavily to college admissions. Seniors also need time before April to prepare for May AP and IB tests to earn them college credits as well as being on track for high school graduation credit completion.”
The board had disagreements about how the district should make-up the lost school days but urged the district to look into possibly changing the make-up days that were included in the agreement.