UTLA delayed the start of a potential teachers strike until Monday, Jan. 14, as LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner and LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia headed to Sacramento to plead with state leaders for more school funding to meet teacher demands and avert a strike.
“Los Angeles Unified is doing everything possible to avoid a strike,” Beutner said. “We are working with state leaders to find more resources to better support our students and all who work in our schools.”
LAUSD and UTLA resumed talks Wednesday at LAUSD headquarters, and the strike delay may give the two sides more time to reach a deal that would spare parents, kids and teachers the pain of a walkout.
UTLA’s decision to delay came after the Los Angeles Superior Court declined to rule on the legality of a Thursday strike until Thursday morning because of ongoing paperwork snafus. "We do not want to bring confusion and chaos to an already fluid situation," UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl said in a statement sent to teachers.
The district’s meetings with state leaders Wednesday underscored LAUSD’s difficult financial challenges. LAUSD sweetened its offer to UTLA in talks Monday, adding $75 million to the $30 million prior offer to lower class sizes and hire more nurses, counselors and librarians. LAUSD is also offering UTLA members 6 percent raises. UTLA called that offer “inadequate.”
Beutner has said that he would like to meet all of UTLA’s demands, but they would cost billions and would lead instantly to insolvency and state takeover. About 90 percent of the funding LAUSD receives comes from the state.
The question on everyone’s mind is, where is Governor Gavin Newsom? Newsom was elected with help from the statewide teachers union and in recent days has highlighted plans for more preschool and college funding, but he has remained notably silent on K-12 education funding, as teachers in the state’s largest district prepare to strike.
Newsom is expected to release a detailed budget proposal in coming days but has made no comment on the financial crisis in Los Angeles. Other school districts in California are also facing a funding crunch because the required district contributions for teacher pensions are rising dramatically, and healthcare costs are rising. Sacramento Unified recently had its budget denied by the county, and cuts were ordered. Teachers in Oakland are also on the verge of a strike.
“We remain committed to providing every student in Los Angeles Unified a great public education,” said Board President García. “Today is a first step in working with state leaders to achieve this goal.”
For a list of frequently asked questions about the potential strike, please see our Strike FAQ For Parents.