Tomorrow’s LA Unified School Board meeting is shaping up to be loud and crowded as the seven members take the final step in approving a new contract with the teachers union and consider several plans to fix impending drop in graduation rates.
After years of working under an expired contract, UTLA members last week overwhelmingly approved a tentative agreement with the district that will lead to 10.4 percent raise for teachers over two years. More than 97 percent of union members, nearly 25,000, voted yes and once the board approves it, the new contract will bring teachers a boost in paychecks as early as next month.
The new deal is expected to cost the district about $633 million over three years, plus an additional $31.6 million for several labor groups with “me too” clauses, also over three years, as part of a budget that was already $140 million short, according to LA Unified officials.
But despite the victory that both sides are claiming in reaching a deal after such a long and contentious negotiations, UTLA is planning a rally outside the meeting to fight proposed program cuts and layoffs. Last month the district issued 609 layoff notices to a combination of teachers, counselors and psychologists, and several programs, including adult and early education, face severe cut backs.
Another group intent on demonstrating are supporters of a resolution — the Equity on A-G: Re-affirming Our Commitment to A-G Life Preparation for All — sponsored by Mónica García and Steve Zimmer.
The resolution is an effort to correct a situation the board created 10 years ago when it passed a new set of college-prep high school graduation requirements called A through G. While the original policy was designed to benefit all students by equalizing access to college-preparing courses, it has inadvertently created a ticking time bomb: Only a fraction of students are prepared to take the more rigorous courses by the time they reach high school, which means that by 2017, the first year the requirements will be fully implemented, the district expects to a sharp decline in the graduation rate.