In response to inquiries from the Portland Association of Teachers (PAT), Commissioner Rubio, in partnership with Mayor Wheeler, have worked over the last several days to ensure that the district is aware of the recent city investments in improved infrastructure for Portland schools and have communicated a shared willingness to fast track the timeline to deploy those existing investments.
The Teacher’s Union has asked for improved infrastructure: On Sept 27, 2023, City Council directed the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability to invest $50M from the Portland Clean Energy Fund for upgrades to the six Portland school districts with $19.9M specifically allocated to 30 Portland Public Schools ($16.9M for infrastructure, $3mil for student-led climate initiatives) for improvements that improve school buildings infrastructure, transportation, and school yards. Bureau staff worked with school district staff to develop the initial concept that City Council approved, and now will establish an Intergovernmental Agreement to get those important resources to the school districts.
“I appreciate the dedication PPS and PAT have shown remaining at the bargaining table, which demonstrates their commitment to reaching a resolution,” said Mayor Ted Wheeler. “These resources will bolster the package PPS/PAT agree to, improving school conditions to benefit both teachers and students.”
“I am heartened to be able to support directly some of the stated needs of our schools and the children they serve,” said Commissioner Carmen Rubio. “Moreover, it is my hope that by fast tracking the city investments, agreement will be reached and that our students will be back in the classroom soon.”
Prior to the start of the strike, staff from the Mayor’s office and the Office of Government Relations met with a representative from PPS to better understand the PPS/PAT labor negotiations and the packages being considered. Similar to other leaders and the public, Mayor Wheeler and Commissioner Rubio have received regular updates throughout the bargaining process from both the district and the teacher’s union.
In addition, Commissioner Rubio’s team facilitated the use of City facilities for PPS/PAT bargaining teams to meet and is open to continue providing meeting space.
Mayor Wheeler remains at the ready to support the continuation of bargaining discussions; however, the Mayor believes the appropriate subject matter experts and bargaining teams are already engaged in these negotiations.
Portland Public Schools (PPS) is an independent public school district and not managed by the City of Portland, though it remains incredibly important to both Mayor Wheeler and Commissioner Rubio that both get Portland students back in the classroom as soon as possible.