Portland School Department ed techs accept wage freeze

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PORTLAND — The School Board on Monday approved a new contract with the department’s educational technicians that freezes wages for the coming year.

The contract does provide, however, a retroactive 1 percent cost-of-living adjustment, plus step increases for the past school year.

The contract gives administration the right to change an employee’s building assignment and scheduled work hours “for bona fide economic or program changes.” Portland Public Schools will continue to pay for professional development for ed techs who earn a grade of “B” or better.

Contract negotiations stalled in March, but the ed techs approved the contract in a vote last week, according to the School Department.

“We value our ed techs and the work that they do on behalf (of) our students, so we are very pleased to have reached this agreement,” School Board Chairwoman Sarah Thompson said in a prepared statement. “Throughout these negotiations we have tried to keep student achievement at the center of our thinking while being fair to employees and balancing many competing needs.”

Graduation requirements

On June 24, the School Board approved a new graduation policy that will move the district from a credit-based diploma system to a proficiency-based one.

The new policy will require students to meet standards in traditional academic content areas, as well as in a set of “guiding principles” that cover communication, problem solving, civic duty and more. Students will also be required to complete a capstone project and a “post-secondary success plan.”

“This policy means Portland Public Schools graduates will be better prepared for life after high school,” Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said. “They will have the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in today’s constantly evolving global economy.”

The board has not yet announced when the new graduation policy will take effect. State law requires districts to have proficiency-based policies in place in time for the graduation of the class of 2018, but the Department of Education recently announced several options for implementation extensions. Portland Public Schools is expected to announce a decision later this summer.

Brendan Twist can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or btwist@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @brendantwist.