Portland teachers and district leaders head into high-stakes mediation talks Monday over a labor contract.

Portland Public Schools has been in mediation with its teachers' union since the middle of last month, and it has reached the time when either side could declare an impasse.

That would begin a clock toward final options: the district could impose a last offer, and teachers could potentially vote to strike.

Gwen Sullivan with the Portland Association of Teachers says the difficulty in reaching an agreement has gotten to a point she calls "serious." But Sullivan is telling parents a "crisis" is still avoidable.

"As long as the district doesn't call for impasse, then we can continue negotiating on each side to make sure we can come to an agreement without any disruption to the school year," Sullivan says.

Teachers and administrators are far apart on salary. The district is offering a modest pay increase. Teachers have proposed larger increases and want additional pay for teachers with classes over a certain size.

This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

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