PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Public Schools has announced it is closing all schools in the district on Wednesday, May 8, due to a planned teacher walkout and rally.
“An unplanned day off of school is big deal for Portland’s 49,000 students.“ says Portland Association of Teachers (PAT) president Suzanne Cohen. “But this is a long term investment in their future.”
Cohen and the PAT say they are encouraging Portland-area teachers, families, and community supporters to join them May 8 at 11 a.m. for a rally and march at Tom McCall Waterfront Park.
The event is part of the Oregon Education Association's designated "Day of Action."
Thousands of teachers and staff across Oregon schools are expected to gather in Salem, "as we send the message that it’s time to fix the funding shortage in our schools," the rally's website explains.
"Oregon’s K-12 schools need at least $10.7 billion so educators and school districts are able to serve students. Lawmakers must invest in our students and our future. Oregon’s community colleges need a budget of $787 million to adequately serve their students by restoring programs, filling staffing positions. We know Oregon needs to invest in our schools, not make cuts. With more resources we’d be able to provide every student more individual attention, programs to encourage creativity and learning, and community services to address their unmet needs," according to organizers of the May 8 rally.
The Portland Association of Teachers (PAT) had asked on Friday, April 12, that its member educators in Portland take a 'personal day off' at their respective schools in order to attend the rally in Salem. According to PAT staff, enough teachers responded over the weekend to the request for time off that PPS would not be able to accommodate and safely teach all its 49,000 students in 81 schools.
According to PPS spokesperson Harry Esteve, there is not necessarily a specific number of teachers that have to 'call out' as absent before PPS makes the decision to close the schools. Esteve said the district can have as many as about 400 teachers call out with enough substitutes in place to still accommodate the students on any given day.
Due to the number of teachers taking personal days on May 8, the district was forced to close its schools.
Esteve said students will have to make up those hours. The district already has two snow days on the calendar to make up, June 10 and 11, so this would potentially be a third make-up day scheduled for June 12.
Other districts are also expected to close May 8 due to the teacher shortage as a result of the planned walkout and rally.
This is a developing story. Stay with KATU for updates.