n the 2018/2019 school year, PAT members secured contract language that formally recognized the impact of class sizes and caseloads. Both sides recognized that students are adversely impacted by large classes and by limited service time due to large caseloads, and agreed that educators should be compensated when their workload exceeds a mutually agreed upon standard.
Because this agreement was the first of its kind in Oregon, and because none of the District staff responsible for processing overage pay were part of the negotiations, PPS initially failed to implement a fairly large portion of the overage language.
PAT and PPS eventually smoothed out these differences, in an effort to avoid a lengthy grievance dispute regarding overages. Last year, we reached a common understanding of how to implement many of the new parts of our contract, and the vast majority of PAT members received correct overage payments when they were required.
Unfortunately, several of the remaining issues were still being ironed out when the District declared on December 11th that PPS is no longer going to work from our common understandings, and instead simply implement its interpretation of our overage language.
The most egregious example is PPS’s wildly different approach to A/B schedules at the Middle School level, compared to High School. Essentially, PPS claims that because the periods are of different lengths, Middle School students only count as half a student for the purpose of overages. A PAT member who works an A/B schedule in Middle School can therefore be assigned 300 students a semester (or 440 students for Specialists) before the educator would receive compensation for overages.
This is nonsensical and a clear violation of the contract language. Essentially, PPS doesn’t want to pay educators for the students they must serve because PPS failed to create a sensible schedule in some schools. PPS HR is embarrassed by the financial impact of their poor planning, and is trying to backtrack.
There are other problems with the PPS implementation of our current contract, such as what constitutes a preparation, and which students are counted on an educator’s caseload. Obviously, we are disappointed by PPS’s actions, and we are now filing a formal grievance. We will eventually have an arbitrator decide the correct process, and while this will take time, we believe we will prevail.