Two Sides To A Story: Portland Public Schools’ Labor Negotiations

At the last general meeting, the SNA hosted representatives from Portland Public Schools and from the Portland Association of Teachers.  We asked both parties to submit articles to the SNA Newsletter for those who were not in attendance.   While the SNA board did not choose to take a position on this issue, it is an important issue that affects our community.

School Board Member Speaks on Teacher Contract

By Robb Cowie, Department of Community Involvement and Community Affairs, Portland Public Schools

The Sunnyside Neighborhood Association board asked Portland Public Schools (PPS) board member Tom Koehler to speak at the October SNA meeting about the school district’s current negotiations with the Portland Association of Teachers (PAT). Tom told the board that PPS’s goal is to reach an agreement with PAT that is in the best interests of students and fair and supportive of teachers.

PPS and PAT have been negotiating a new contract for teachers for more than six months. Now a state mediator has joined the talks.

Portland’s teacher contract is important to families and neighbors because it sets the rules for how schools operate. In the current talks, the school board’s priorities are to make it easier for PPS schools to hire and retain the best teachers for our students.

PPS has also offered to add three instructional days to the school year for students, and to increase or maintain planning time for all teachers. In addition, the school district is offering salary increases each year over the proposed 4-year contract. Tom expressed optimism that a deal could be reached with a negotiated settlement.

Tom appreciated the opportunity to share the school board’s views with Sunnyside neighbors and is happy to keep the neighborhood association up to date on school issues.

Portland School Board Out of Touch with What’s Happening in our Schools

By Portland Association of Teachers

Portland teachers have been in contract negotiations with the Portland school district since last spring. In September, the school board unilaterally called for mediation. At the first mediation session on October 14, teachers offered a reduction in their salary proposal and other items saving the district millions of dollars. The board did not offer any new proposal or respond in any substantive way to the teachers’ proposal.

Teachers have made it clear from the beginning of this contract bargain that their priority isn’t salary. In fact, Superintendent Carol Smith acknowledged on OPB on September 15 that teachers and the school board are not far apart on salary.

The school board thinks “getting aggressive” with teachers is the answer to the problems facing our schools. The board and the superintendent are creating a false crisis that will hurt kids. They have the money but they are using it to pay more than $1 million a year to high-priced consultants and attorneys for advice during the contract bargain.

The school board wants to eliminate the only protection teachers and students have against adding more work to the day and more students to classrooms. This would result in eliminating any caps on student loads in high schools. Teachers want to maintain the current provisions that result in reasonable workload so that teachers can teach each student.

The board’s actions don’t represent Portland values. They’re following the lead of Yvonne Deckard, their $15,000-a-month taxpayer-funded consultant and bullying teachers, forcing teachers down the road to accepting an unacceptable or strike. For more information, visit the Portland Association of Teachers website at http://www.pdxteachers.org or the community website at http://www.teachersandparentstogether.com.

Trees to Enjoy in Winter

By Gregg S. Everhart, Landscape Architect, Sunnyside Street Tree Team Member

Winter is a great time to observe and plant trees. Although we often love trees for their flowers, those don’t last long compared to the (seemingly) endless winter. The Sunnyside Street Tree Team (S2T2) has a new list of recommended street trees based on the 2012 inventory. Using the lists of recommended trees will result in a more diverse, healthy, and interesting urban forest.

Listed below is a selection of trees that have evergreen foliage, a particularly graceful overall form, interesting branching structure, colored twigs or buds, and/or unusual bark. Recommended lists of trees, with links to information on each tree, can be found under the S2T2 tab at http://sunnysideneighborhood.wordpress.com/trees/ The website also includes a list of trees at Sunnyside addresses so you can look for them on neighborhood walks. If we resolve some technical issues, there will also be a tour map. Names shown below in bold are trees that are infrequent on Sunnyside streets. Enjoy!

NO OVERHEAD POWER TRANSMISSION LINES

  • 2.5-3’ planting strip: Cornelian Cherry Dogwood, Seven Son Flower Tree, Fragrant Snowbell, Snowcone Japanese Snowbell
  • 2.5-3.5’ planting strip: Crape Myrtle, Chinese Pistache, Amur maackiai, Golden Glory Cornelian Cherry Dogwood, Japanese Snowbell
  • 3-5.5’ planting strip: Cascara, Vanessa Persian Ironwood, Pink Chimes Japanese Snowbell, Japanese Stewartia, Tall (or Orangebark) Stewartia
  • 4-5.5’ planting strip: American Hophornbeam
  • 4-8.5’ or larger planting strips: Heritage River Birch, Columnar European Hornbeam
  • 6’ or larger planting strip: Sourwood, Rivers Purple Beech, Bald Cypress, Frontier Elm, Turkish Filbert, Hackberry, Sunburst Honeylocust, European Hornbeam, Espresso Kentucky Coffee Tree, Burr Oak, Swamp White Oak, Dawn Redwood, Green Vase Zelkova, Village Green Zelkova

 OVERHEAD POWER TRANSMISSION LINES (look for ceramic insulators)

  • 3-5.5’ planting strip: Chinese Pistache; American Hornbeam; Persian Ironwood; City Sprite Zelkova
  • 4-5.5’ planting strip: June Snow Giant Dogwood; Forest Green (or Hungarian) Oak; Moonglow Magnolia
  • 4’ or larger planting strip: Crape Myrtle; American Hornbeam; Chinese Dogwood; Chinese Fringetree; Edith Bogue Southern Magnolia
  • 6’ or larger planting strip: American Hophornbeam
  • 8.5’ or larger planting strip: Sourwood

Pesticide-Free Parks—Safe for Kids and 4-Legged Companions

By Michael Wade

What strange smells propel our faithful 4-legged friends along the paths we walk? There are many we don’t even know are there, among them the sweet odors of pesticides and herbicides. While not usually harmful after they have been applied and dried, when encountered in an active state these substances are linked to a variety of ailments in dogs and should be avoided.

Better yet, don’t use pesticides at all. That is the objective of a contingent of Portlanders in several pesticide-free parks in the city. The Pesticide-Free Parks program, begun several years ago, officially covers five parks. At these parks, under an agreement with the city, citizens weed and mulch for a couple of hours each month to make application of pesticides and herbicides unnecessary. If you walk your dog in Sewallcrest, Lair Hill, Arbor Lodge, Midland, or Hillside parks, your dog is pesticide free (at least while in the park).

The Pesticide-Free Parks volunteers are always looking for help and to expand their reach into other parks. If you would like to connect with them, write to pdxpesticidefreeparks@gmail.com or to Steve Pixley of the City of Portland’s Volunteer Services at Steve.Pixley@portlandoregon.gov.

Come on out, meet some great people, and help them make your park Pesticide Free!

Emergency Preparedness Committee and NET Need Stuff

By Lee Greer, SNA Emergency Preparedness Committee Co-Chair

This month, instead of a preparedness tip, we have a request. The SNA Emergency Preparedness Committee, together with the Sunnyside Neighborhood Emergency Team, now has a space to store supplies and equipment to use to help our neighbors in an emergency. Now we need supplies and equipment to put in it. Before we look for monetary donations or other funding sources, we are asking Sunnyside residents what kinds of things you can share with us.

Here are some of the things we can use:

  • Bungee cords to secure the lids of totes that have already been donate
  • Storage shelves
  • First aid supplies (Do you have some bandaging material or other supplies left over from a past surgery or illness?)
  • Clean 5-gallon buckets and lids for them (these are good for many things, including hauling water and use as toilets)
  • Things with wheels that we can use to move things to the staging area: (hand trucks, dollies, garden carts)
  • Water containers of a size easy to move when filled
  • Hand tools, especially pry bars
  • Tarps
  • A canopy
  • A large tent
  • Clipboards
  • Nylon cord or rope
  • And, of course, that all-purpose essential, duct tape (masking tape, too)

Check your garage or basement to see if you have anything you’re not using that you think we might use. If you’re not sure, check with us. You can bring things to a meeting. SNA next meets on November 14 at 7 p.m. at Southeast Uplift, 3534 SE Main Street. The Emergency Preparedness Committee meets on November 18 at 7 p.m. at the Hawthorne Fred Meyer in the deli seating area. Or fill out the form below and we’ll arrange a drop-off or pick-up. Thanks!