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Austin Beutner presents new offer for LAUSD teachers, but strike remains likely

Howard Blume and John Myers, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES -- With a Monday teachers' strike approaching, Los Angeles schools Superintendent Austin Beutner brought a revised offer to the union Friday, on the expectation of new money from California Gov. Gavin Newsom's proposed budget.

The new proposal would provide a full-time nurse at every elementary school and also lower class sizes at middle schools by about two students. This offer builds on a proposal from earlier in the week, in which the district also proposed lower class sizes.

Teachers union President Alex Caputo-Pearl was not immediately available for comment but indicated that the district's offer earlier this week included loopholes that could have resulted in larger classes.

The two sides are currently in a negotiating session that began early Friday afternoon.

The two sides have inched closer in recent negotiations, but do not appear on the verge of a settlement. At this point, the teachers have assembled a strike army, and it seems unlikely that they would disarm without turning it loose for at least a few days, many observers think.

A group of community leaders and activists also assembled in Koreatown in support of the union Friday afternoon. Those speaking at the afternoon rally included Dolores Huerta, co-founder of United Farm Workers, civil rights leader the Rev. James Lawson and Melina Abdullah, a leader of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles. Teachers also took part.

Although Newsom has not pledged specific help to local officials, his first proposed state budget includes increased funding for all California school districts.

The governor also has proposed putting additional money into the state's pension funds, which could provide some relief for L.A. Unified and other school districts.

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Beutner has said repeatedly that he supports some of the teachers' demands but that the district cannot afford to meet them. He has pointed to projections showing the district's financial reserves disappearing over the next two to three years.

Caputo-Pearl has accused Beutner of exaggerating L.A. Unified's financial woes and asserted that the district has ample means to provide better pay and staffing.

The district's current salary offer is 6 percent spread over the first two years of a three-year contract. The teachers are asking for 6.5 percent that would be retroactive a year earlier. But the union also is seeking to "fully staff" schools with new hiring aimed at making classes smaller and getting campuses full-time nurses, librarians for every secondary school and additional academic counselors.

(Myers reported from Sacramento, Calif.)

(c)2019 Los Angeles Times

Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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