As teachers strike looms, LAUSD, union set to negotiate again

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The union for Los Angeles Unified School District teachers is scheduled to go on strike Jan. 10 if they cannot reach a new contract deal with the administration.

Negotiators for LAUSD and United Teachers Los Angeles will meet Monday at City Hall in another attempt to reach a deal before a strike is launched Thursday.

LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner recently urged the congregation at Resurrection Church in Carson to talk with friends and family about why a teachers strike needs to be avoided.

"I'd like to see us solve this without a strike because a strike will hurt kids," said Beutner.
"As we've said repeatedly to UTLA leadership, any time anywhere, around the clock, we want to work to avoid a strike. We hope tomorrow they'll come with a renewed sense and commitment to try and make this work," Beutner told Eyewitness News in an interview.

Beutner has been on the job less than a year and has been made a target by union officials who say he wants to privatize the district with charter schools.

"I'm a public school kid. Child of an immigrant. My mom taught school for 37 years. It's an honor to be doing this work. My commitment is to the students and families of LAUSD," said Beutner.

If there's a strike, LAUSD wants parents to still send their kids to school and says learning will still take place.

UTLA's position is that it's up to parents to make the best decision for their children.

UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl says he's hopeful an agreement can be reached this week. But if there's a strike, his kids won't be going to school and will be on the picket lines with teachers.
"What we need the district to do though is to come and in and express a commitment to spending its record-breaking reserve on student needs," Caputo-Pearl said.

"There's almost a $2 billion reserve that the district has right now and we've got 80 percent of our schools without a full-time school nurse. We've got secondary classes with 45 students in them."

But Beutner said there's not enough in the reserve funds to cover all the union's demands.

"We would all like smaller class size. More counselors, nurses and librarians and we're spending every penny we have for that," Beutner said.

"The work from here has to be to find more resources, but we're spending every penny in the reserve. It will be gone. It's time for them to say we can't afford what they want. It's not that we don't want those same things. The values we're in agreement on, it's how we get them."

Half a million LAUSD students return from a three-week break Monday and the district says the last thing students need is more time away from school.
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