United Teachers Los Angeles
Teachers in Los Angeles are on strike for higher pay and more resources.

Negotiations resume; Los Angeles teachers strike enters 5th day

Jan. 15, 2019
More than 30,000 teachers and other staff in the nation's second-largest school system are seeking higher pay and more resources.

Los Angeles teachers will walk picket lines for a fifth day Friday after the union and school district officials returned to the bargaining table with hopes of ending the strike in the nation's second-largest school district.

NBC Los Angeles reports that contract negotiations resumed Thursday for the first time in nearly a week. There was no word on whether either side provided a new offer.

Clashes over pay, class sizes and support-staff levels in the 640,000-student district students led to the school system's first strike in 30 years; classrooms have been staffed with substitute teachers and administrators.

Parents and children have joined teacher demonstrations despite heavy rain that has drenched the city.

Overall student attendance fell to 83,900 on Thursday. Because state funding dependent on attendance, student absences have cost the district about $97 million over four days, the district says. At the same time, it has not had to spend about $10 million a day on teacher pay.

EARLIER THIS WEEK: Striking Los Angeles teachers are basking in wide support for their walkout, but pressure will grow to settle the dispute as both sides suffer financial losses.

The Los Angeles Times reports that a long strike could take a devastating toll on the finances and reputation of the Los Angeles Unified School District, which could make it more difficult for teachers to achieve their goals.

Nearly 80 percent of Los Angeles County residents say they side with L.A. teachers, according to a survey  by the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University.

But pressure to settle may build as teachers lose salary, the district loses funding and families worry about lost learning time and how to balance childcare with work.

TUESDAY: As thousands of Los Angeles Unified School District teachers walked picket lines, the district’s superintendent urged them to come back to classrooms, and made a plea for a renewed effort to seek funding from Sacramento to meet teachers’ demands.

“Our students are best served with an educator in every classroom,” says Superintendent Austin Beutner. “We need our educators back in our classrooms, helping to inspire our students.”

The Los Angeles Daily News reports that as a result of the teachers strike, just 141,631 students attended schools on Monday. The district has about 500,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, and typically about 450,000 would attend school on a rainy day, Beutner says.

The district and United Teachers Los Angeles remain locked in an impasse over the union’s demands for a 6.5 percent raise, lower class sizes, more counseling and nursing resources at local campuses and regulation of charter schools.

MONDAY: More than 32,000 Los Angeles teachers and staff members have begun a strike in the nation's second-largest school district after negotiators for the teachers union and district failed to reach a contract agreement.

CNN reports that the walkout is the first teachers strike in the Los Angeles Unified School District in 30 years.

Both the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) union and the district say they want smaller class sizes, increased teacher salaries, and more counselors and nurses in the district's roughly 1,000 schools. But they haven't been able to agree on how much money to allocate to those improvements.

To keep schools open, the district has reassigned more than 2,000 administrators to campuses and also brought in about 400 substitute teachers.

Exactly how that will work out logistically remains uncertain.

In the district's latest offer to the union Friday, it said it "would add nearly 1,200 more educators -- teachers, counselors, nurses and librarians -- in schools, reducing class size in thousands of classrooms."

Class sizes in grades four to six would be capped at 35 students, and class sizes in all middle and high school math and English classes would be capped at 39 students, the district said.

The offer also called for a 6 percent salary increase and back pay for the 2017-2018 school year, the district said.

But union President Alex Caputo-Pearl says the offer was good for only one year and was "woefully inadequate."

The union wants the district to use $1.86 billion in budget reserves to increase school staffing and boost teachers' salaries by 6.5 percent.

"We have been working without a contract for almost one year," the union said in a statement.

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