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Teachers' union, PPS sign tentative agreement

Portland's teachers' union and Portland Public Schools officials signed a tentative labor agreement Tuesday, ending nearly a year of contentious negotiations just two days before a scheduled strike.

The two sides reached a "conceptual agreement" Monday after 23 hours of talks on a new contract to avert a teachers' strike on Thursday, Feb. 20.

Details of the agreement will not be released until PAT members vote on the contract, which could happen next week.

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

Also Tuesday morning, a grassroots group called the Parents Coalition wrote to PPS leaders to request a public forum before the tentative contract agreement with PAT is approved.

The coalition asks that the school board share the content and meaning of the agreement, and answer related questions from the public. They're asking for an "authentic opportunity" for the community to review the details of the agreement and understand the implications for students, rather than a one-way public comment session.

The coalition also asks that the board vote on the contract at at a time that is accessible to the public, with at least 72 hours notice, as required by public meeting laws.

The board was scheduled to meet Tuesday night, 6 to 9 p.m.; the next meeting is scheduled for March 3.

The Parents Coalition made the same requests to PPS in December, asking for public transparency and community engagement prior to any board ratification of a PAT contract.

"Given the previous disinvestment in high schools due to a labor agreement, we will be interested in how this conceptual agreement specifically impacts the ability of PPS to ensure all high schools are staffed and resourced for students to take a full school day for a school year, and whether it supports all students earning a high school diploma that prepares them for college, career, and life after high school," coalition parents wrote in a statement on Tuesday.