The Portland school board has approved a new contract with the district’s teachers that includes a 13 percent pay increase over the next three years.
The board approved the agreement with the Portland Education Association at its meeting Tuesday, and the contract is already in effect.
“I really want to recognize the extraordinary work that happened between the two teams,” school board Chair Emily Figdor said in a statement from the district. “At first when we sat down and realized there were a lot of issues, it wasn’t clear that we were going to make progress like we did.
“But we were able to step back and listen to each other and talk about the values that we were trying to achieve and agree on our common values and vision. Doing that, we achieved more than we thought possible.”
Kerrie Dowdy, president of the PEA, said at the meeting that she wanted to thank the “many voices of the PEA involved in this contract.” She highlighted in particular the work of Beth Romano-Arsenault, the union’s chief negotiator, whom Dowdy said has led negotiations for about 10 years but will now be stepping away from the role.
“The PEA would especially like to thank Beth for her knowledge and skill as a negotiator, as well as for the hours and hours she has given for the benefit of our association,” Dowdy said.
The contract includes salary scale and step pay increases each year that add up to a combined 13.4 percent increase over the three-year contract and a total of nearly $7 million.
“The investments in the salary scale are designed to make the district’s teacher salaries more competitive with regional school districts, which will help the Portland Public Schools attract new educators and retain existing staff,” the district statement said.
The work day of educators has also been extended so that it will now include a collective 25 minutes before and after the instructional work day, instead of just 15 minutes before the start of the day. Twenty of those minutes will be flexibly scheduled by school leadership teams to meet student needs before or after the school day.
The contract identifies an additional two hours per month of time that can be scheduled for teachers to collaborate with colleagues, support students or be used for family engagement. And it establishes leadership teams with scholarships in all schools whose focus is to create a formal structure to collaborate on advancing teaching and learning in each building.
“Ratifying this agreement with the PEA is an incredibly important step forward for us as a school district,” Superintendent Xavier Botana said in the statement. “We have been talking about how we can create an environment where we are one and there is collective efficacy, and how people in the district can feel that the organization is aligned in moving that common vision forward. I believe this contract helps us do that.”
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