In Partnership with The 74

After 700 new teachers hired, LA Unified still looking for more

Vanessa Romo | August 1, 2014



Eleven days before the start of the new school year, LA Unified is still hiring teachers.

By the district’s accounting, about 700 have been brought aboard for the school year starting Aug. 12, and district officials are looking to add up to 100 more. That would give the district about a third more new instructors than they had at the beginning of the academic calendar last year.

The hirings mark a big change from the last five years or so. Instead of reducing the overall number of instructors, the district is using an influx of new state money this year to fill gaps that have ballooned class sizes, angering teachers, parents and the teachers union, UTLA. Hiring more teachers for the coming year became one of UTLA’s major rallying cries.

“There’s a flurry of hiring happening at some of our schools still,” Justo Avila, Chief Human Resource Officer told LA School Report. “New teachers are being added in pretty much all subject areas across all grade levels.”

From a UTLA perspective, the hirings are a “a positive step and a sign of a better economic reality for our schools,” said UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl.

“But even with these new hires,” he added, “LAUSD students still face class sizes that are not down to their pre-recession levels. This round of hiring also excludes key positions—such as nurses, counselors, psychiatric social workers and teacher librarians—that our students need to support their social-emotional health. UTLA is trying to tackle these shortfalls right now in contract negotiations with LAUSD, as part of our vision for the Schools L.A. Students Deserve.”

About 50 to 75 of the newly-filled positions are by previously laid-off teachers, who have the right to new jobs that open up, according to Avila. He disputed Caputo-Pearl’s assertion that the district has not filled other positions, saying additional counselors and other health and human services positions have been hired, as well.

As of July 30, LA Unified had hired the following teachers:

  • Elementary – 325
  • Special Education – 153
  • English – 80
  • Social Science – 52
  • Mathematics – 50
  • Science – 23
  • Foreign Language – 5
  • Art/Music – 2
  • Physical – Education – 2
  • Others – 7

LA Unified’s teacher turnover rates reached as high as 50 percent during years of the recession, officials said, so Avila says the district is holding new teacher orientations in an effort to stem attrition, which he called “five days of super-onboarding.”

“We took a look at our turnover data and our resignation of teachers — what they are having challenges with — and sort of built a training to address some of those issues so future teachers will be better prepared to handle those challenges,” he said.

Over the week-long training, new teachers participate in new multiple professional development sessions including discussions on instructional methodologies, receiving Common Core training and learning new classroom management skills.

“Our teachers also have a lot of social-emotional needs and we want to make sure to address those, too,” Deborah Ignagni told LA School Report, adding that freshman teachers will be getting self-care and well-being advice.

In addition to new teachers, the district is also adding 150 assistant principals in some of LA Unified’s neediest schools and across elementary schools.

“We’re going to be in really good shape when the new years starts,” said Avila.

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