Price of LAUSD, teachers union split on evaluations: $171 million

teacher_evaluation_satisfactoryWhile the teachers union and LA Unified are united in spirit that the district should not lose $47 million in state money over faulty attendance record keeping, their disagreement on another issue could cost them nearly four times as much from Washington.

The district has until March 31 to apply for federal waiver that allows LA Unified to replace No Child Left Behind accountability rules with its own school improvement system. It is called the California Office to Reform Education (CORE) Waiver, and it would generate $171 million in federal revenue over three years.

But to win the waiver, the district and UTLA must agree on a teacher evaluation system that includes a minimum of three rankings. That has been a sticking point in contract negotiations over the past seven months. Without an agreement with the union, the district may be in jeopardy of disqualifying itself from receiving the money.

Alex Caputo Pearl, president of UTLA, says the issue is on the agenda tomorrow as part of the first mediated session between the two sides.

“It’s one of the things we’re going to hammer out in mediation,” he told LA School Report.

In 2013, the district implemented a new overall teacher evaluation system that raised performance levels to four from two. The union objected, saying it never agreed to the new terms and argued that the new system created a path to establish merit pay to reward the highest performing teachers. The union took the issue to the labor board, and a PERB judge agreed with UTLA, that the district acted unlawfully, and ordered the two sides to renegotiate the terms.

In anticipation of the looming deadline, Superintendent Ramon Cortines last month sent a letter to UTLA, suggesting that the union and the district work toward an agreement on the single issue. But it never came.

While Caputo-Pearl admitted the waiver would help shrink the district’s estimated $180 million deficit for the 2015-16 school year, he says it comes with strings attached, unlike the money generated by average daily attendance.

“[The CORE money] can only be applied to certain things,” he explained, “whereas the $47 million is General Funds. It can be generally applied to class size, staffing, and other uses. The CORE Waiver money has certain constraints.”

LA Unified developing list of teachers at rallies to dock their pay

Teachers at  Dr. Owen Lloyd Knox Elementary School boycott a faulty meeting. (Credit: Twitter user @00dreday00)

Teachers at Knox Elementary School boycott a faulty meeting. (Credit: Twitter user @00dreday00 )

LA Unified officials today began a process of determining which teachers skipped a faculty meeting yesterday to participate in school-site rallies.

Tom Waldman, a district spokesman, said efforts are underway to learn from each school tha names of teachers and other staff who chose a rally over a meeting — a violation of the law, in the view of Superintendent Ramon Cortines. UTLA officials dismissed the warning as saber-rattling, insisting that attending the rallies violated no laws.

Waldman said is was still unclear how the district could collect a list of names — whether it would require calls to individual schools or reports from principals.

But any district employee who attended a rally would lose the equivalent of one hour of pay, he said.

LA teachers boycott faculty meetings to press for contract demands

UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl outside Dorsey High School

UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl outside Dorsey High School

Members of the Los Angeles teachers union, UTLA, staged more school site rallies today, these to call attention to contract demands that are now in the hands of an independent mediator to resolve.

At one of the rallies, at Dorsey High SchoolSharonne Hapuarachy, an English teacher and union chapter chair, said, “The people who are here today are not here for more of a pay increase. They’re actually out here because we’re holding out for the district to move on our school site demands including lower class sizes nurses and counselors and librarians at every school.”

The rallies played out at an hour many schools were to have held faculty sessions. Superintendent Ramon Cortines warned the teachers that boycotting or engaging in other forms of work stoppage is unlawful and in violation of state regulations.

About two dozen teachers, nurses and other school employees at Dorsey also heard from Alex Caputo-Pearl, the UTLA president. He conceded that rallying during faculty meeting time carried a risk, saying, “We are proud that we are in a fight that is much larger than a one hour pay dock if the superintendent goes through with that.”

Caputo-Pearl said teachers and others were boycotting at schools all across the city, an action scheduled just ahead of the first meeting between union and district negotiators with the independent state mediator assigned to bring the sides together on a new contract.

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UTLA moving ahead with boycott in face of district threats

UTLA rally at Grand Park

UTLA rally at Grand Park

Despite threats by LA Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines to withhold wages, the teachers union, UTLA, is urging teachers to boycott faculty meetings tomorrow at schools across the district.

“The Superintendent has threatened to dock the pay of employees who participate.  We know what we are doing is right, and this scare tactic will not stop us,” union officials said in a statement today.

The boycotts are part of the union’s escalating actions in its campaign for “Schools LA Students Deserve,” a platform that includes reducing class sizes, hiring more school counselors, nurses and full-time librarians; and winning an 8.5 percent pay raise.

Contract negotiations between the district and UTLA have stalled, and the two sides are headed to their first mediation session Wednesday.

In a letter to district employees last week, Cortines said he reminded UTLA “that boycotting faculty meetings, or engaging in any other forms of work stoppage, are unlawful and in violation” of state regulations. He also called the boycotts “irresponsible.”

But UTLA contends members have boycotted faculty meetings “many times in past years” and has refused to back down. Teachers plan to rally at campuses after school tomorrow at 2:30.

Schmerelson ‘feeling pretty good’ after making District 3 runoff

Scott Schmerelson

Scott Schmerelson

*UPDATED

Scott Schmerelson says he is “feeling pretty good” these days, and the longtime LA Unified educator, counselor and principal certainly has lots of reasons for it.

Schmerelson emerged from a logjam of five challengers to finish second in the March 3 school board primary election, good enough to make the May 19 runoff against District 3 incumbent Tamar Galatzan. She finished first with 40.2 percent of the vote (as of officials results announced today) but short of the majority needed to avoid the runoff.

Schmerelson moved on with with 20.4 percent, well ahead of Ankur Patel (12.8), Elizabeth Badger (10.8), Carl Petersen (10) and Filiberto Gonzalez (5.8).

But those also rans could become important factors in the runoff. With their support amounting to more than 40 percent of the overall vote, two of them are supporting Schmerelson in the runoff, and the two others say they are considering it.

“I invited them to lunch to talk and to kind of meet and thank each other in doing such a good job,” Schmerelson told LA School Report, noting that Gonzalez was not there but that they spoke on the phone later. “We all agreed that we were working for the same cause and were united. In other words, they were going to throw their votes and voters towards me, and they would encourage their people to be on my side.”

Official public support or endorsements have yet to materialize from all the challengers, but it does appear that none of them plans to endorse Galatzan or work against him.

Patel  said he plans to endorse Schmerelson, and Petersen has expressed his support in a press release and on social media. Badger said she is considering an endorsement, calling Schmerelson a “great candidate,” and Gonzalez said he is going to be talking to Schmerelson soon about a potential endorsement. Gonzalez also said on Twitter that he will not endorse Galatzan.

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JUST IN: Cortines warns UTLA to abandon boycott of faculty meetings

Ray Cortines

Ray Cortines

*UPDATED

LA Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines warned the teachers union, UTLA, today that urging its members to boycott three upcoming faculty meetings violates the terms of a directive from the Public Employees Employment Board.

In a harshly-worded statement Cortines said attending the meetings is “a required professional duty under the LAUSD-UTLA contract agreement” and a boycott would violate a 1990 directive issued by PERB that arose out of “previous unlawful boycotts of required duties.”

That order, he asserted, “still holds today.”

Cortines’s warning came in response to a “Chapter talking points” memo dated March 10 posted to UTLA’s website that states, “Every UTLA Area will be holding afterschool meetings for chapter chairs and activists to plan faculty meeting boycotts in March and April and ensure 100% participation. The meetings are expected to last from 60 to 90 minutes.”

In addition to the press release, Cortines made the same points in separate letters to UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl and to LA Unified employees.

“Nothing could be more detrimental to the extraordinary educational progress that this District has made in recent years,” Cortines said in the statement. “As we await the involvement of a mediator in negotiations, I urge UTLA to stop this irresponsible and unlawful effort, and instead work with the District to complete negotiations so that all employees can devote their entire focus to the District’s core mission of educating students and ensuring student safety.”

The union responded to Cortines late this afternoon with a statement that said the boycotts represent another of its “escalating actions” to achieve negotiating demands.

“UTLA members have boycotted faculty meetings many times in past years and we have no intention of backing down now because of threats by Cortines to retaliate against employees who participate,” the statement said.

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Teachers union makes no commit for endorsement in Vladovic race

District 7 debate

The candidates at the LA Unified District 7 forum

A meeting yesterday of UTLA’s political action committee, PACE, concluded with no decision to endorse LA Unified School Board President Richard Vladovic or his opponent, Lydia Gutierrez.

Vladovic was forced into May runoff against Gutierrez, a veteran educator who is anti-Common Core, pro-Vergara and Republican. It was an unusually close race for Vladovic after serving two terms on the board and more than a year as its president. The union did not endorse Vladovic in either of his previous runs for the board.

In previous races for other elected positions, Gutierrez has had strong support from conservative Christians and Republicans. On one conservative website she was commended for opposing public funding of abortion and supporting teaching intelligent design as an alternative to the theory of evolution. Her vehement opposition to Common Core has also won her support among Tea Party conservatives.

According to an official familiar with events at the PACE meeting, the subject of Vladovic’s endorsement “never came up.”

But “it’s possible it will come up at the House of Representatives meeting” on March 25, the official said. Many LA Unified teachers have campaigned independently on Vladovic’s behalf.

PACE is recommending that the union endorse Scott Schmerelson, a long-time LA Unified principal and administrator who is also a Republican. Although school board elections are non-partisan, the union’s support for a Republican comes as Republican governors around the country are supporting policies that weaken unions and their collective bargaining rights.

The teachers union endorsed incumbent Bennett Kayser in the primary race for District 5 against charter school founder, Ref Rodriguez, and spent about $450,000 in getting him through the primary.

UTLA one step closer to endorsing a Republican in Schmerelson

Scott Schmerelson

Scott Schmerelson

The Los Angeles teachers union, UTLA, has moved one step closer to endorsing Scott Schmerelson, a former LA Unified principal, administrator and a Republican, in the runoff race for Board District 3.

Members of the teachers union political action committee, PACE, are recommending to the full committee an endorsement for Schmerelson in his bid to unseat the two-time incumbent Tamar Galatzan, pledging to work tirelessly to remove her from the school board.

“The executive committee has already recommended endorsing Schmerelson based on the positive polling results we have seen,” a union official familiar with the process told LA School Report.

“We expect UTLA’s House of Representatives to fully endorse him so we can start a campaign,” he said, adding that Galatzan’s failure to gain support from the LA County Democratic Party improves the odds for Schmerelson.

The union’s House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on endorsements at a meeting on March 25. The union has already endorsed  — and spent heavily to support — incumbent Bennett Kayser in his second bid for District 5. PACE has not made an official recommendation in the District 7 contest between board President Richard Vladovic and his challenger, Lydia Gutierrez, who is also a Republican.

“There will be a lot of discussion and I cannot guess what will come of it — too many factors,” the union official said of District 7.

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To cut deficit, LAUSD is proposing layoffs of hundreds of teachers

UTLA teachers protesting at Carver Middle School this morning  (photo credit: UTLA)

UTLA teachers protesting at Carver Middle School this morning (photo credit: UTLA)

* UPDATED

Despite new money from the state, LA Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines is taking direct aim at the district’s $160 million budget deficit with proposed layoffs that include hundreds of teachers.

District officials have calculated that to reduce the deficit, the number of teachers, administrators, counselors and nurses — certificated employees — must be reduced by 609 for the 2015-2016 academic year. Additional cuts are projected to come from among support staff employees.

Already, said Lydia Ramos, a district spokeswoman, departments throughout district headquarters are being reduced by at least 8 percent with some as much as 40 percent.

The proposed layoffs will be presented to the school board at its monthly meeting tomorrow, and they come as the state has moved forward from a long period of recession There was additional optimism across the district based on the expectations that Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised budget, due in May, would identify an increase in spending for state public schools.

But Ramos said the proposed layoffs are aimed at reducing a “structural” deficit, which cannot be eliminated by one-time funds.

“Laying off permanent certificated employees will permit the district to meet district and student needs as a result of continued and unresolved budgetary shortfalls for the 2015-2016 academic school year,” district staff told board members in an analysis as a prelude to tomorrow’s meeting.

Alex-Caputo-Pearl, president of the teachers union, UTLA, called the proposed action “out of step” with the chronic challenges faced at district school sites.

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UTLA’s downtown rally makes a media splash far and wide

Aside from being well attended by thousands of teachers and supporters, the rally held last week by the LA teachers union, UTLA, also attracted its fair share of media attention.

The major city papers were there, as were TV stations, college newspapers and even a humble education news website. The rally also got national attention, with the Associated Press story being picked up by news organizations as far flung and far removed from LAUSD issues as the Grand Island Independent.

With the TV helicopter shots confirming that the entire park was filled with little standing room, one could assume UTLA leaders were pleased with the attendance and coverage. But despite the big media splash, UTLA still has one more story on the rally it wants people to see.

Nearly a week after the event, UTLA reveled its own video on the rally and posted it to its Facebook page. It is slickly produced and edited and longer than most news organizations dedicated, so it actually provides a good feel for what is was like to be there and a chance for those interested to see the rally the way UTLA wants you to see it.

Take a look at the video link above or click here.

 

 

Analysis: Primaries over, LAUSD races now seeking voters and money

Red Rodriguez supporters

(Credit: Twitter @Casey_Horton)

Now that the primaries are over, it’s time to ponder a few issues they raise. And perhaps nothing is more ponderous than turnout.

Los Angeles is growing notorious for the pathetic number of voters who show up at polling places. But if you thought Tuesday’s less-than-10 percent turnout was bad, just wait until the May 19 runoffs, when Angelinos have only one City Council race to decide and three LA Unified board seats, in Districts 3, 5 and 7.

This poses enormous challenges for political action committees that may need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for the handful of votes that would translate to victory.

Already, the school board District 5 race shows the certainty of another big spend. The California Charter Schools Association’s political arm put out $421,000 to help Ref Rodriguez, who finished first, while the PAC for the teachers union, UTLA, spent about $463,000 to support incumbent Bennett Kayser, who was second.

Together, they polled fewer than 16,000 votes. 

The challenge for all political action committees is how much more to spend in an 11-week general election campaign, with the charter group sure to write checks, as well, to support the incumbents in District 3, Tamar Galatzan, and District 7, Richard Vladovic.

The charters, of course, have the deeper pockets, drawing on help from such beloved/reviled education reformers as Michael Bloomberg and Eli Broad. The teachers union has to decide how much from dues of 35,000 members aching for a pay raise it needs to remain competitive.

The expectations of a big spend in District 5 reflects the importance of the seat to both sides, and the winning effort could well reverberate beyond LA Unified.

This is the latest showdown between the polar opposites in American education policy, pitting those who support charters as a preferred option to traditional public schools against those who believe the charters contribute to the challenges in traditional schools by bleeding them of human and financial resources.

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State labor board sets dates to meet with LA Unified, teachers union

Grand park rally UTLA

UTLA rally at Grand Park Feb. 26, 2014

Now that LA Unified and UTLA have agreed that they can’t agree, they’re headed for mediation later this month.

The state Public Employment Relations Board has assigned a mediator to accomplish in three sessions what the two sides were unable to do in 18 meetings over seven months: negotiate a long-overdue contact for the 35,000-member teachers union.

The dates of the sessions are set: March 26, April 6, and April 15. But they could extend beyond that window, an official with PERB told LA School Report today. She said it’s conceivable that it could take “much longer.”

“The mediator’s job is to keep the parties engaged in discussions until they reach an agreement,” she said.

Only the mediator can determine that the two sides are unable to reach a resolution. If that happens, she explained, negotiation cease, triggering a “Fact Finding” process in which each side is required to produce records and data that bolster its bargaining position.

Some district officials have speculated the teachers union is biding its time until May when the governor will present his revised budget, often called “the May revise.” The California Legislative Analyst’s Office has projected a boost of $2 billion in anticipated revenues, which is good news for teachers who have been told repeatedly that the district doesn’t have the money for a bigger pay raise.

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Thousands of LA teachers rally downtown for new contract

It was dubbed the “Stand at Grand,” and while it may not have drawn as many as the “Thrilla in Manilla,” it was an impressive turnout of thousands of Los Angeles Unified teachers at Grand Park last night as they rallied to demand a new contract.

With City Hall behind him and a massive crowd of teachers and supporters in front of him, Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of the teachers union, UTLA, took the stage at the end of the rally, but before he even spoke, his point was already made: the show of force and size of the crowd was the whole point of the gathering.

Caputo-Pearl claimed there were 15,000 people at the park. A group of police officers assigned to the rally told LA School Report they estimated the number at 8,000 to 10,000. Whatever the number, the downtown park was filled with teachers eager to show their willingness to go on strike if asked.

“The goal today is to show that we are not afraid to go out on strike, that if we don’t meet an agreement that we will go out on strike,” said Monica Multer, a teacher at Melvin Avenue Elementary.

The rally comes as the first major event in the wake of an impasse in negotiations between the union and LA Unified, which the two sides declared earlier this month. Negotiations have dragged on for months, with the union rejecting the district’s latest offer of a five percent raise, an increase in starting salary and millions of dollars to reduce class size.

The sides remain an estimated $800 million apart as the union is seeking the first raise for its members in eight years. UTLA’s last demand before the impasse was for a 8.5 percent raise. The district has said that meeting the demands would mean large cuts to other areas of the budget as well as layoffs.

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Analysis: A big week for the teachers to demonstrate what they want

UTLA rally at James Monroe High School Nov. 20, 2014

UTLA rally at James Monroe High School Nov. 20, 2014

“Most of our early escalation tactics are about building solidarity among members, because a 35,000 member union can’t win a fight against the corporate education ‘reformers’ lined up against us with anything less than 35,000 members active in the fight.”

That’s what it says on the UTLA website, which makes this a critical week for teachers in their fight for a bigger raise than LA Unified is offering so far.

Scheduled for Thursday is the latest of the teacher union’s “escalating actions,” a rally planned for downtown called, “Making Our Stand at Grand,” a reference to the downtown location. It’s a chance for the union to stand up to the district with a show of unity and resolve.

But it represents something else, as well, coming at a time negotiations for a new contract have gone nowhere, with both sides calling in a mediator and Superintendent Ramon Cortines, as he did on Friday, affirming his belief that closing a $160 million deficit takes preference over giving UTLA more than the 5 percent raise on the table.

Thursday is a also referendum on the Union Power leadership team led by President Alex Caputo-Pearl, whose ascension to office last year was built on the possible need of a final showdown, of sorts, with a district that has made teachers collateral damage in the nation’s long recession.

For nearly eight years, teachers have soldiered on, enduring layoffs and furloughs without so most as a Christmas turkey, let alone a cost of living raise.

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Cortines says deficit is cutting programs, jobs and teacher raises

Ramon Cortines Dec. 9, 2014LA Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines had a stern warning today for the LA teachers union as well as for the district, itself:

Not only are teachers not getting the salary increases they have been demanding in the now stalled contract negotiations, he said, but with a remaining budget deficit of $160 million, he has already begun cutting programs for next year. Layoffs, he said, are next.

What’s most likely to be cut? “Everything!” Cortines said. “I have been meeting with all of the divisions to reduce our expenses.”

Cortines’s announcement came in a rare meeting with reporters who cover LA Unified. It was a startling message, given the steady insistence by the teachers union, UTLA, that new state money coming into the district this year would be enough to give teachers a sizable raise after none for nearly eight years.

But Cortines was having none of it: Just hours earlier, he said, he approved a 10 percent cut in a single department although he would not say which one. He also repeated his expectation that LA Unified students will have access to technology but not necessary through the one-to-one program created by former Superintendent John Deasy designed to give every student a laptop or digital tablet.

“As I have stated before publicly, we are committed to providing technology to our children—whether it be desktop computer labs, laptops or tablets—to help prepare them for the 21st century,” Cortines said in a statement hours later issued by the district to amplify his position. “However, as we are reviewing our lessons learned, there must be a balanced approach to spending bond dollars to buy technology when there are so many brick and mortar and other critical facility needs that must be met.”

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UTLA says money is there for teachers; LA Unified not so sure

(Photo: UTLA Facebook page)

(Photo: UTLA Facebook page)

Fueling the impasse announced yesterday between the teachers union, UTLA, and LA Unified is a dispute over so-called “unaccounted” sources of money that the teachers union says could be used for raises and other demands.

“We are bargaining in good faith but when we uncover a $59 million pot of money the district doesn’t know if it still has, it doesn’t build a lot of confidence when they say they’re broke,” UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl told LA School Report today.

He is referring to a $59 million one-time Common Core fund that was split up and sent to individual school sites at the start of the year. According to the district, schools were given autonomy on spending, and it’s only now that they are reporting back to the central office how the money has been used. As information dribbles in, it has left a lot of confusion on the running total thus far.

Tom Waldman, a district spokesman, confirmed today UTLA’s claim, that the one-time funds expire June 30, meaning anything left unspent will vanish.

“Obviously, no one is saying this money will solve all of our financial difficulty,” Caputo-Pearl added. “But how do we know there aren’t more sources of money we don’t know about?” he asked.

Another point of contention leading the union to seek a neutral third-party voice in the stalled negotiations, is a new report by the California Legislative Analyst’s Office, projecting another $2 billion in state revenues next year.

“Much of that will go to K-12 education,” Caputo-Pearl said.

However, district officials say it’s too early to begin counting those chickens. Final school budget numbers are reported in May.

In the meantime, Caputo-Pearl says the union will strive to reach a compromise with the district even as the two sides are requesting mediation from the state Public Employees Relations Board.

“We have by no means, drawn a line in the sand,” he said. “We’re waiting on the district to make us a counter offer on a number of issues.”

To generate more public support for its contract demands, UTLA is planning a rally, called “Making our stand at Grand,” at Grand Park on Feb 26.  Speakers will include the presidents of the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers, along with the president of National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers’ union.

Still far apart, teachers union, LA Unified agree to declare an impasse

UTLA-Contract-NegotiationsThe possibility of a strike by Los Angeles teachers loomed larger today as the teachers union, UTLA, declared an impasse in negotiations with LA Unified, citing a lack of progress in bargaining since the talks began last year.

The district agreed and said it would join the union with “reluctant willingness” in asking the state Public Employment Relations Board to affirm that the talks are deadlocked.

The declaration starts a detailed legal process defined by state law, designed to give the sides the best chance to resolve differences. It could take about a month before they exhaust the steps along the way, leading to an agreement or a strike.

The sides have made little progress on a dozen issues, including a pay raise for teachers, who haven’t had one in more than seven years. After 18 bargaining sessions, it became apparent today that the gulfs on salaries and everything else are too wide to close without outside help.

If the PERB affirms that the talks are deadlocked, a mediator would be assigned to help the sides find common ground and bring them to an agreement. Negotiations can continue during the mediation process, but if it proves unsuccessful, the process would continue with a fact-finding panel — a representative from each side and a state-appointed neutral as chairman — to recommend terms of a settlement.

If no agreement is achieved, the sides could resume negotiations, the district could impose its best and final offer and, rejecting it, the union could strike.

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Teachers union flatly rejects latest LA Unified labor contract offer

UTLA-Contract-NegotiationsThe teachers union today made it official, flatly rejecting LA Unified’s most recent contract offer, which included a five percent salary rise, a nine percent increase in minimum salary for first-year teachers and additional money to lower class size.

With the union sticking by its demand of an 8.5 percent salary increase, the sides remain $800 million apart, according to district calculations. A district statement released tonight said its negotiators asked their counterparts to identify other sources for the money but did not, apparently, get a response.

“I’m very disappointed in UTLA’s unwillingness to accept our responsible offer,” Superintendent Ramon Cortines said in the statement. “We are dealing with a budget that has had a deficit for three years and we are trying to balance it. Again, we must learn to live within our means as we preserve vital and necessary educational services for our students.”

The union, UTLA, confirmed its rejection in a short statement, adding, “The offer was insufficient. No new proposals were offered today by either side.”

UTLA remains the only district labor partner that remains without a new contract. The others have accepted a two percent salary increase, which the teachers scoffed at when they were offered the same amount in the district’s opening offer.

About the only good news emerging from today’s meeting is that there is another bargaining session scheduled on Feb. 18, with additional meetings to follow though the end of March.

Whether any amount of time will make much of a difference is the open question. In his response to district-wide teacher protests this morning, Cortines hinted that the district’s latest offer may be it’s last, and his statement tonight did little to alter that impression.

The teachers, on the other hand, have not had a raise in more than seven years and have spent months drumming up community support for their demands.

After several concessions on its salary demand over the months —  from 10 percent to 9 to the most recent 8.5 percent — the union’s unwillingness to lower it again suggests that it, too, may have hit a bargaining redline.

If it’s true that both sides have reached a limit, the possibility of a strike would appear all the more real.

Teachers stage district-wide protest as LAUSD holds firm on money

UTLA teachers protesting at Carver Middle School this morning  (Credit: UTLA)

UTLA teachers protesting at Carver Middle School this morning (photo credit: UTLA)

The LA Unified teachers staged one of its biggest “escalations” yet in support of their demands in a new contract from the district, staging demonstrations at schools across the district.

The teachers union, UTLA, said “virtually every school was participating” in protests that lasted 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the school.

“These people have been the heroes of education for the past eight years,” Alex Caputo-Pearl, the union president, said at a press conference this morning at Carver Middle School in south Los Angeles. “They are dealing with some of the highest class sizes and staffing ratios and have endured years without a raise. LAUSD has more than 3,000 classes with more than 45 students in them. The things we are demanding—lower class sizes, fully staffed schools and fair compensation—are not radical. They are necessary. School employees have been breaking their backs to make up for a lack of staffing and resources at schools, but it’s too much to sustain. Now’s the time to turn this around.”

Just as teachers moved inside to begin classes, district Superintendent Ramon Cortines issued a statement in response to the demonstrations that seemed to suggest the district’s most recent salary increase offer might be its last.

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