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Teachers, PPS reach 'conceptual agreement' in labor talks

Portland Association of Teachers reported Tuesday morning that the union had reached a "conceptual agreement" with the Portland Public Schools, possibly avoiding a teachers strike planned to start Thursday, Feb. 20.

“After 10 months of difficult negotiations and hard work by both sides I am very pleased that PPS & PAT have reached a conceptual agreement. I look forward to finalizing the tentative agreement later today.” said PPS Superintendent Carole Smith.

Although terms of the agreement were not disclosed, they are known to cover salaries, workload, health insurance, and other benefits.

School officials also announced that the Wednesday, Feb. 19school day will still begin at the regular morning time and release two and a half hours early.

The agreement must still be approved by the Portland School Board and the teacher's union for the threat of a strike to be completely averted.

In a posting on the association's Facebook page, union officials said the two sides bargained for 23 hours Monday and Tuesday to reach the tentative deal.

"We will come back together later today (Tuesday) to iron out the details and put it in writing in the form of a tentative agreement," according to the Facebook posting. "When we have a signed Tentative Agreement, the strike will be suspended pending ratification by PAT membership and the board."

The Portland School Board will meet Tuesday morning to review the agreement. If the board approves it, Smith will be authorized to sign an agreement with the teacher's union detailing the terms of the agreement. The union would then submit the agreement to its members for a vote, a process that will take several days. If teachers reject the agreement, another strike vote will have to be scheduled and taken before they could walk out.