President's Message: Finishing the Year Together

Dear Educators,

Congratulations on the completion of the 2019-2020 school year. Though it’s not the year we hoped to have, there is so much to be proud of and celebrate, while acknowledging the long road ahead.

We end the year in the midst of worldwide protests over the murder of George Floyd, and the institutional racism and white supremacy that enables police throughout the country to continue killing people of color. 

This uprising has sparked long overdue changes, and a much needed conversation over what makes our communities safe and how our public budgets should reflect our values and meet community needs. 

Night after night, tens of thousands of Portlanders have taken to the streets to protest police violence, demonstrating the power of collection action and why we must continue to organize for the world we want, for ourselves and our students. 

We know the change we want does not come easily, but we must continue to stand up and speak out. 

I’m proud of the work our Racial Equity and Social Justice committees have done to bring together educators of color and allies. As a union, PAT will continue to raise the bar, challenging us all to do better for our students and our colleagues. Our committees will continue to lead on this difficult work, and support us all in this journey. For now, we can celebrate the removal of police as a regular presence in our schools.

We should also be proud of the work we’ve done to secure more funding for schools--and our advocacy with PPS on directing how those dollars are spent. The District’s financial situation next year was a great unknown after the pandemic hit. We feared the worst, but once again, our collective action paid off. 

We took the risk of agreeing to participate in the Work Share program, and delaying our full compensation, to save an estimated $10 million for the District. We fought the businesses who wanted to use the pandemic as an excuse not to pay their taxes. We lobbied Congress for added school funding. 

And while Oregon hasn't achieved fully-funded schools yet, next year will still see an increase in our overall budget. We will have a total of 50 additional PAT members starting in the fall, and PPS is investing in the areas where we’ve highlighted our acute needs, like counselors, social workers, and special education supports.  

If the pandemic had not happened, we would be seeing lower class sizes next year, along with many other supports. Even without realizing these gains yet, our work with students and families has paved the way for where to invest new resources as we emerge from this recession.

We know summer means very different things for educators, and this summer is totally different than anything we’ve ever experienced. 

Many of us work second jobs, which may or may not exist because of COVID-19. And for those of us counting on that extra income, we’re figuring out what to do. Many of us use summer to pursue education credits or develop lesson plans. Now we must do this in the context of social distancing. Some of us are figuring out how to mark your children’s educational milestones without familiar traditions and ceremonies. While others of us are preparing our children for the next step in their education, whether it’s the first day of kindergarten or moving them into their college dorm room, there will be the added challenge of figuring out what will be open and when.

As you wrap up your year, please take a moment to acknowledge your colleagues who are retiring, switching schools, or leaving PPS. It isn’t easy to say goodbye virtually.

And as my term as PAT President ends, I’m not saying goodbye, just see you later. I look forward to continuing to serve my students and my union as a classroom educator. I’m excited for what our incoming President, Elizabeth Thiel, has planned for us moving forward, and am grateful for her leadership.

Whatever challenges and joys this summer brings you, take some time to celebrate the work we’ve done together.

In Solidarity,

Suzanne Cohen

PAT President

Charitable Giving to Support PPS Families

Many of you asked what more could be done to support our families during this pandemic- and PAT leaders came together to launch a matching campaign with the Coronavirus Relief Fund for Portland Public Schools Students and Families.

We offered up to $40,000 in matching funds….and in just 10 days we raised $38,005, which we will match for almost $80,000 in total! Thanks to you for helping build this momentum in our community, and to all the educators who dug deep and donated to this important effort. It’s impressive that the average educator contribution was $120.

This is a potent reminder that especially in the worst of times, we always come together for our students, especially those most impacted. If you know of a family in need, please work with your site’s relief fund coordinator. If you don’t know who that is, ask your administrator.

PAT PAC Update

The PAT PAC is proud to announce that we endorse Maxine Dexter for Oregon House District 33 for the November election. Maxine Dexter won the May Democratic Primary for the seat, and will be appointed in June to fill the vacancy left by the passing of Representative Mitch Greenlick. Maxine Dexter is a pulmonary and critical care doctor, and a huge proponent of universal health care. She credits public schools, and the teachers who saw her potential, for helping her become the first person in her family to go to college. She credits her union job for creating a route to finance her college education. Her personal journey has made her a staunch advocate for labor and public schools. You can read more about Maxine Dexter hereAnd, congratulations to the PAT PAC endorsed candidates who were elected in the May primary election, or who will continue on to the next step in the electoral process:

  • Mike Schmidt for Multnomah County District Attorney
  • Carmen Rubio for Portland City Council
  • Metro Councilor Bob Stacey 
  • County Commissioner Sharon Meiran
  • County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson
  • Khanh Pham for Oregon House District 46 (headed to the November general election)
  • Senator Kathleen Taylor (headed to the November general election)
  • City Councilor Chloe Eudaly (headed to November run-off)
  • Mary Nolan (headed to November run-off)

Additionally, the Here Together Campaign to fund Homeless Services passed and will provide direly needed services to keep families housed and create pathways out of houselessness.It is crucial that we elect leaders who are committed to taking bold steps to create racial equity, economic justice, and environmental sustainability in our community, as well as supporting strong public schools.

Evaluations Update

Since the beginning of remote instruction, PAT has been working with PPS to reach an understanding about how evaluations would be completed under current conditions.  Although we do not have a signed agreement, we do have a common understanding with PPS Human Resources on the guidelines we will use.

First, we have agreed that if the steps of the evaluation process-- up to and including the formal observation-- were completed prior to March 13, 2020, the administrator will schedule the remaining meetings to complete the evaluation cycle at a time mutually agreed upon by the employee. That may include postponing the final meeting(s) until the 2020-21 school year.   

Second, if any steps of the evaluation process were not completed for contract educators by March 13, 2020, the educator will be rescheduled for evaluation during the 2020-2021 school year. Rescheduling is by mutual agreement between the educator and their administrator and it would change the evaluation cycle for those affected by one year. 

If the educator and their administrator don’t agree to restart the evaluation in the fall, the evaluation can be completed immediately when school resumes next year, using what was already documented this year, plus any new information. In this case, the evaluation cycle would not have a one-year adjustment.  

Finally, if the steps of the evaluation process were not completed by March 13, 2020, and the educator is a probationary educator, the educator will be considered to have completed their required evaluation cycle for this year.  

We know how difficult this year has been, and we understand that most evaluations fit the first scenario. However, PAT and PPS wanted to give administrators and educators room to work together on a system beneficial to everyone where formal observations were not completed. 

And in no case will any work done during this period of distance learning be used in any evaluations. 

Staffing Update

One of the many things impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic is our staffing process. Due to the changing economic landscape in Oregon the District suspended the normal staffing process after the closure that began on  March 13th. 

We initially expected Student Success Act funds to add many new PAT positions to PPS. Based on these plans, PPS had already completed the first internal round of hiring before the closure. Since then, the changing budget-landscape has created a great deal of uncertainty.

Both the state’s General Fund and the anticipated revenue from the SSA are now expected to be significantly less than was projected earlier this year.  The net result of reduced state support, less SSA funds than originally expected, and savings from the furlough and purchasing freeze, will mean approximately 50 new full time educators added for next year. In other words, we’ll have significant losses from what we had hoped and planned for, but will have some modest gains in staffing as compared to this year.

With all of this in mind, we are happy to report that PAT and the district have come to an agreement on a timeline and process for continuing with staffing for the 2020-21 school year. Here are the steps for our revised staffing timeline. 

Phase 1: Updated Allocations to Schools- June 11 to June 22

Administrators receive updated allocations and determine changes to their program and schedule changes as needed based on updated budget and programming requirements.

Phase 2: Notification - June 22nd

Administrators notify educators whose position will change from their original 2020-2021 assignment. Some educators may be newly unassigned, others may be restored. Unless your administrator contacts you, you should assume your original assignment at your current school (AY 2019-20) remains in effect.

Any educator who was not unassigned originally, but becomes unassigned after new staffing allocations are determined will be able to apply in a restricted internal round before jobs are posted more widely.

Phase 3: HR Review - June 22 to July 9

Human Resources reviews each school’s updated assignments. All internal transfers that were accepted and still exist will be honored. Any leave of absence request will be honored (unless the educator has requested to rescind).

Phase 4: Finalizing Remaining Assignments - July 6 to July 16

The Office of School Performance and HR will finalize the assignment for any educator who remains unassigned.

Any educator that had previously accepted a transfer for a position that no longer exists will be able to participate in an expedited application and selection process for vacant positions.

Phase 5: Jobs Posted - End of July

HR posts vacancies not impacted by layoff.If needed, HR begins the layoff process by endorsement area and seniority.

Work Share Updates

Work Share Update: Salary Advances

We understand you may be experiencing financial hardship since there have been delays receiving the additional $600 weekly payments, as well as the weekly unemployment benefits you should be receiving as part of the Work Share program.

Please be aware that, if needed, you can apply for a salary advance from the District. 

If you are in need of a salary advance please contact: 

Ondra Matthews

Assistant Director - Payroll Services

(503) 916-3283

omatthew@pps.net

Work Share Update: Problems with Home Financing?

If you are financing or refinancing a home and you have concerns about how the Work Share pay reduction will impact your mortgage financing, the first step you should take is to have your lender call the The Work Number at 1-800-367-2884. They will need the PPS employer code (10999) and your social security number to access employment information. 

PPS has assured us that they have been reporting no reduction in salary level so there should not be any problems. If, however, you are experiencing any difficulties please contact Penny Robertson at probertson1@pps.net You may need to request that you be taken out of the Work Share program to guarantee that your mortgage financing is not jeopardized.

Building Access after June 11

Some of you have asked about gaining access to your buildings after Thursday, June 11. After PAT brought these concerns forward, Shawn Bird, Chief of Schools, sent an email to all principals clarifying that during the week of June 15, principals, counselors, media specialists and secretaries may be in buildings. Shawn Bird also clarified that while most educators should plan to wrap up everything in their classrooms by the end of the day on June 11, principals should work with individual teachers who need additional time, especially those retiring and those with significant packing needs. 

If you anticipate needing access to your classroom after June 11, contact your principal this week to make arrangements.

OEA Summer Conference: Registration Now Open!

OEA members have stood strong and amplified our voices in decision-making circles in our Districts and in Salem, despite the unprecedented challenges we have faced this year. We have built on the power and promise of our union by lifting up the lived experiences of our colleagues, students, and communities to translate the funding improvements we fought for and won in 2019 into tangible changes in our classrooms and schools.

Join educators from around the state this summer as we build on our momentum and make plans for the 2020-2021 school year. At the Virtual Summer Conference, everyone is a teacher, everyone is a learner, and we all are sowing the seeds of change. 

Please register to join us online at our 2020 OEA Virtual Summer Conference: Power + Promise: Our union’s potential in unprecedented times. See the course offerings and register here!

You can register for as many or as few sessions as you like, and there will be tracks focusing on Advocacy, Equity, Professional Practice, Leadership, as well as Affinity Group spaces.

Contract Exceptions- Deadline is August 5, 2020

We have extended the deadline for Contract Exceptions for the 2020-2021 academic year to August 5, 2020. The Advocacy Committee will meet on August 12, 2020  to review all of the contract exception applications that have been submitted. This will still allow us time to approve/deny submitted exceptions prior to the start of next school.

The contract exception process will obviously be a little different this time, as you won’t be able to hold an in-person secret ballot vote, and you may not have access to a printer or scanner to submit your application and other documentation. Members have already found some creative ways to get around these hurdles:

  • For voting, members have been using electronic voting systems. Thank you to one of our colleagues, Julie Wright at da Vinci, who shared with us an online Google Forms ballot she created, which allows people to vote anonymously. [Click Here to access the ballot forms and instructions] You are not required to use this specific ballot, but it has worked well for some members.
  • If you don’t have a printer and scanner to submit the required documentation, you can take screenshots of your online ballot, or use your cell phone to take photos of any necessary documents.
  • Normally your administrator is required to sign the completed application. In lieu of their physical signature, you can have the administrator send you an email saying something like: “Although I am not physically able to sign this document, I am authorizing that my signature be used on this contract exception application, and I agree with the plan as proposed.”

If you have any questions about whether one of your “alternative” forms of documentation will be considered valid by the Advocacy Committee, please contact Jennifer.Dixon@oregoned.org 

Please submit your Contract Exception applications to Jennifer.Dixon@oregoned.org no later than Wednesday, August 5, 2020.