LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – LAUSD officials say they are “extremely disappointed” that United Teachers Los Angeles has rejected a new contract that offer as the clock ticks towards the district’s first strike in nearly three decades.
LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner outlined the new offer after traveling up to Sacramento Thursday to meet with state leaders.
In a news conference, Beutner said the additional investment will reduce high school and middle school classes sizes by two students. The District’s contract proposal is a roughly $24 million increase from the its previous offer, with $10 million expected to come from the county and the rest anticipated through the state budget process, Beutner said. However the district announced the new offer had been rejected and that UTLA “refused to continue contract negotiations”.
In response to Friday’s talks, UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl acknowledged that contract negotiations were at an impasse, but he indicated the teachers’ union would consider any offer from the district over the weekend that is “demonstrably different” from its current offer.
“Short of a surprise like that … on Monday we will be on strike for our students, for our schools and for the future of public education,” he said.
On Thursday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom released a 2019-20 budget proposal which he said emphasized education by including a record $80.7 billion in funding for K-12 and community college, an increase of about $2 billion from the $78.4 billion in funding for 2018-19 year.
At issue between the two sides has been pay, class size and the hiring of more support staff such as nurses, counselors and librarians. LAUSD has offered a 6 percent pay hike retroactive to July 1, 2016, while United Teachers Los Angeles is demanding a 6.5 percent salary increase.
“Part of that is money from Sacramento, part of that is money from the reserve, part of that is shuffling people within the district, so that’s not a question that I can answer straight off,” UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl responded at a news conference Thursday when asked his initial thoughts about the pending proposal.
Following 20 months of unsuccessful negotiations, about 30,000 members of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) are set to walk off the job Monday, the first such strike in 30 years for the second largest school district in the nation, serving 600,000 students.
UTLA had originally planned to start the strike Thursday, but announced Wednesday that it was pushing back the strike to Monday over a dispute regarding whether it had provided LAUSD with the legally-required 10-day strike notice.
Negotiations have also hinged on the debate between public schools and privatizing schools through charters. The union wants to ensure that privatization doesn’t cut public school funding.
Another disagreement between the two sides is over a reported $1.8 billion district reserve. UTLA argues that the reserve could be tapped to pay for its demands, while Beutner has said the reserve has already been fully earmarked, including for the potential raises for teachers. He has argued the UTLA demands would push the district into insolvency.
Parents, meanwhile, are concerned over how schools will operate during the strike. Four hundred substitutes have been hired for the task and 2,000 administrators with teaching credentials have been reassigned. LAUSD also controversially eased background check requirements for parent volunteers.
Last week, Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city has been preparing contingency plans to assist families in the event of a strike. Recreation centers, parks and libraries will be open as “safe places” where parents can bring their children on strike days. Metro will also be offering LAUSD students free rides on buses and trains on strike days. The L.A. Zoo will also be offering students free admission on strike days.
The district has established an information hotline for parents at 213-443-1300 to answer questions about the planned strike and its possible impact.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)