by: ROB MANNING/OPB - Portland Public Schools Superintendent Carole Smith said the district doesn't want a strike but that they're preparing for that possibility.Oregon's largest school district is now officially at an impasse with its teachers union.

Portland Public Schools made the announcement Wednesday. Both the district and the Portland Association of Teachers now have seven days to submit final offers.

A 30-day cooling off period follows, after which, the district could implement a contract. It can also open the door to a possible vote by teachers to strike.

Superintendent Carole Smith joined other district leaders in saying repeatedly they don't want a strike - but that they're preparing for that possibility.

Smith said, "We're prepearing as we would prepare for any emergency, although I want to be really clear that we're believing that reaching impasse is really trying to use this moment to have both of our final offers on the table. By the time - so we're maximizing the opportunity of being in mediation, to actually get to a contract that's good for kids."

The district says the two sides are far apart on financial issues, such as salary. The union has expressed frustration that the district wants to remove elements from the contract -- including limits on how many students the district can require teachers to carry on their work load.

The two sides have a scheduled mediation session for early December, but could meet face-to-face before then.

Contract Publishing

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