Portland Public Schools announced Monday it has called for a state mediator to help in labor talks with the teachers' union. That starts a clock ticking toward a potential strike.

District officials say the Portland Association of Teachers' latest proposal would cost a quarter of a billion dollars over two years, and is a step in the wrong direction.

Union teachers say the cost comes from attaching dollar figures to policy goals the district won't otherwise discuss, like regulating class size in the contract. Teachers want to continue face-to-face talks beyond the three days scheduled for later this month.

But PPS board member Matt Morton says the district has to do things differently.

"We need to be aggressive about this," Morton said. "The business as usual is not something that has gotten us to a place that's going to be tolerable any more."

Mediation is scheduled to start Oct. 1. From there, it's nearly a two-month timeline before the district could implement a final offer or teachers could vote to strike.

This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

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