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District, teachers reach deal to end week-long strike

Includes pay raise, support staff

J.D. Williams OW Contributor | 1/24/2019, midnight

Union leaders and administrators with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) announced a tentative deal on Tuesday and teachers returned to their classrooms Wednesday ending the first Los Angeles teachers strike in 30 years.

LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner and United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) President Alex Caputo-Pearl joined Mayor Eric Garcetti at news conference at City Hall to announce the agreement, which Garcetti said came after “a 21-hour marathon session that wrapped up just before sunrise...” UTLA teachers went on strike Jan. 14, calling for smaller class sizes and the hiring of more support staff, such as nurses, counselors and librarians, and a pay raise.

“The strike nobody wanted is now behind us,” Beutner said. But he also cautioned: “We can’t solve 40 years of under-investment in public education in just one week or just one contract. Now that all students and our educators are heading back to the classroom, we have to keep our focus and pay attention to the long-term solutions.” The deal includes a six percent pay raise for teachers, with three percent retroactive to the 2017-18 school year and another three percent retroactive to July 1, 2018. It also includes provisions for providing a full-time nurse at all schools, along with a teacher-librarian. The proposal also calls for the hiring of 17 counselors by October. It was still unclear exactly how the proposed new hires would be funded and how much they will cost.

Garcetti said the deal’s various provisions include a combination of funding or other support from the state, county and city. The proposal also outlines a phased-in reduction of class sizes over the next three school years, with additional reductions for “high needs” campuses. Also part of the deal is district support of a statewide cap on charter schools. Additionally, the deal calls on the mayor to support a ballot initiative going to voters in November 2020 that would roll back Proposition 13 property tax limits on commercial buildings to increase state tax revenue for public education.

“We have seen over the last few weeks the way that the city has rallied around public education, and quite frankly it’s been breathtaking; it’s been inspiring to see,” Garcetti said.

Under the agreement, the district also agreed to create 30 community schools — a model that has been tried in Cincinnati and Austin, Texas. These schools are supposed to provide social services to students and family, rich academic programs that include the arts and leadership roles for parents and teachers.

The district also agreed to expand to about two dozen the number of schools that will no longer conduct random searches of middle and high school students. A provision that was especially important to students who marched in support of their teachers.

Beutner said the agreement marked the beginning of a community conversation.

“Public education is now the topic in every household in our community,” he said. “Let’s capitalize on that. Let’s fix it.”

District officials said the UTLA strike, which kept teachers out of classrooms for six school days as of Tuesday, had cost the LAUSD at least $125 million in attendance-based state funding. That amount is partially offset by an estimated $10 million per day by the salaries that were not paid to striking teachers.