Portland Public Schools strike preparation

District would close for three days, prioritize opening elementary and middle schools

Portland Public Schools would cancel school for three days and prioritize re-opening elementary and middle schools if teachers walk out on the job on Feb. 20, according to initial plans released by the school district.
Portland Association of Teachers members on Wednesday overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike, bringing Oregon's largest district to the brink of its first-ever strike.
Teachers have already sent in a notice to the state setting a walkout date of Feb. 20, but both sides have said they would hope to reach a negotiated agreement before then.
Portland Public Schools officials have declined to release extensive plans on what would happen during a walkout by refusing a public records request from The Oregonian. An appeal on the refusal has been reviewed by the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office, with a decision slated to be revealed on Monday.
But a frequently-asked-questions list posted to the district website on Friday revealed several details about ways the district would attempt to keep the doors open during a walkout, which would include nearly 2,900 teachers and affect nearly 48,000 students.
District officials would close schools on the first day of the strike, which would start on Feb. 20, as well as the following Friday and Monday, according to the document. During that time, the district will conduct staff training on how to operate the schools.
Portland Public Schools has attempted to recruit substitute teachers outside the district, offering replacement teachers a guaranteed 5 days of payment, regardless of the length of the walkout.
In the document, officials say they will use "replacement teachers, PPS substitute teachers, and substitute education assistants" to staff schools, as well as support staff, administrators and central office staff.
Portland Public Schools officials also said it would prioritize opening schools serving elementary and middle school grades on the following Tuesday, with high schools to follow.
It's clear from the document that schools would operate very differently under a strike. District officials admitted they could not replace "the essential role of our teachers."
During a strike, most of the district's 2,900 teachers are expected to take to the picket lines. The district has a pool of about 800 substitute teachers that would be available, but many of those educators, who are represented by the union, would likely refuse to cross the picket lines.


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