Pending LAUSD Strike: The Facts
Local schools that would be affected by the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) strike are Palisades, Marquez, Canyon and Topanga Charter Affiliated Elementary Schools and Paul Revere Middle School. Palisades High School, a fiscally independent charter whose teachers operate under a different contract, will not be affected by the threatened January 10 strike.
Negotiations have been underway since the fall between the UTLA and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), which oversees 621,000 students and 30,000 teachers.
After an impasse in November, a state-mandated, fact-finding panel was assembled and the three-member group’s findings were released on December 14.
COMPENSATION: The union had asked for a 6.5 percent raise retroactive to July 1, 2016. The three-member panel supported the district’s salary offer of a 3 percent raise retroactive to July 1, 2017, and an additional three percent as of July 1, 2018.
According to LAUSD’s pay schedule, currently a beginning teacher’s salary is $50,368, which can rise to more than $80,000 for 182 days of work (two are student-free). Teachers are paid for 22 holidays and the District pays classroom teachers who hold National Board Certification an additional 15 percent salary compensation.
CLASS SIZE: In addition to a pay raise, UTLA is asking that the district reduce class sizes, scale back standardized testing, implement “common-sense regulations on charter schools” and bolster early, adult and bilingual education programs.
LAUSD has offered UTLA $30 million to hire more counselors, nurses and librarians.
The December fact-finding report said UTLA’s demands of lower-class size “at this point are too expensive.” It did endorse LAUSD’s October offer to work together with UTLA to develop a new class-size plan.
On the UTLA website, the average number of K-3 students is 24 with maximum class size of 27. In grades 4-6, 30 is the average and 35 is listed as the maximum. In grades 6-8, average class size is 34, with the maximum listed as 37.
The California Education Code, sections 41376 and 41378, prescribe the maximum class sizes and penalties for districts with any classes that exceed the limits.
- Kindergarten—average class size not to exceed 31 students; no class larger than 33 students
- Grades one through three—average class size not to exceed 30 students; no class larger than 32 students
- Grades four through eight—in the current fiscal year, average number of students per teacher not to exceed the greater of 29.9 (the statewide average number of students per teacher in 1964) or the district’s average number of students per teacher in 1964
The panel sided with UTLA’s objection to a current contract provision that allows the district to override class-size caps in the contract by claiming financial hardship.
According to Speak Up, class size is an issue across California, with San Diego, Long Beach and a number of cities having higher class sizes than LAUSD (Visit: speakupparents.org/speakup-board-watch-take-action/2018/12/18/fact-finder-says-utla-should-accept-lausds-salary-and-class-size-offers-to-prevent-strike.)
DEFICIT CLAIM: Although LAUSD had a $1.8 billion surplus last year, the district says it is operating at deficit because of declining enrollment and increased costs such as pension obligations. UTLA disagrees, saying that the state requires only a 1 percent reserve, but LAUSD has 26.5 percent in reserves.
LAUSD responded that the surplus includes each school’s carry over and an ongoing 6 percent raise for the teachers, but “We have a $350M deficit each year.”
(According to a February 2018 LA School report, LAUSD is losing 12,000 students every year—mostly to charter schools. The District’s money from the state comes from daily attendance. Teachers at charter schools are not required to join UTLA and most are non-union.)
The report suggested that teachers and the District work together to secure more funding from the state.
After the report, LAUSD’s Superintendent Austin Beutner called on UTLA to settle the dispute without going on strike. Beutner also reached out to Mayor Eric Garcetti, asking for his help, but UTLA has rejected Garcetti’s help.