District Also Promises Increased Transparency and Communication
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, June 24, 2016
Andrew Gorry, firstname.lastname@example.org, 971-888-5665
Belinda Reagan, email@example.com, 503-236-3497
PORTLAND, OR—On Tuesday, June 21, the Portland School Board approved a budget for 2016-2017 that includes up to $250,000 to make free lead testing available to any Portland Public School (PPS) school worker who requests it.
This new funding comes from an agreement made between the district and leaders of four unions representing school workers at PPS over the course of two meetings last week—the school board meeting on Tuesday, June 14, and a District & Employee Stakeholder Meeting on Thursday, June 16. Showing a united front on issues of safety, accountability, and trust, the union leaders confronted the board about two major issues.
The first issue: lead testing results had been held secret from employees, as well as the public, degrading trust and potentially endangering students, faculty, and staff.
The second issue: the district had been refusing to pay for lead testing for school employees not currently assigned to Creston or Rose City Park schools.
At last Thursday’s stakeholder meeting, PPS Superintendent Carole Smith and management agreed to open lines of communication on vital issues, including health and safety, with unions and school workers; and to provide free lead testing to any school worker who requests it, regardless of their worksite.
During these discussions, the school worker unions were represented as follows: Belinda Reagan, President, and Michelle Batten, Field Rep of Portland Federation of School Professionals, Local 111, AFT-Oregon, representing classified workers (PFSP); Gwen Sullivan, Portland Association of Teachers, Oregon Education Association, representing teachers; Mike Bray, Tim Carman, and James Dean, SEIU Local 503, OPEU, School Employees Union Local 140, representing custodial and food service workers; and Pat Christensen, District Council of Unions, representing maintenance workers.
“I’m pleased that we’ve reached an agreement that will improve the peace of mind and safety of workers who are dealing with this situation at Portland Public Schools,” said Reagan. “Going forward, we have every expectation that the district will be accountable to the promises of increased communication and transparency that they made.”