LAUSD, UTLA to meet Monday in 1 last negotiation to avert strike

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- On Monday, the same day half a million LAUSD students return from break, the teachers union and the district will meet one last time to avert a strike which has been marked for Jan. 10.

The principal at Brentwood Science Magnet Reginald Brunson spent the last day of his winter break at school preparing for the possibility of a teachers strike.

"We only have 180 days of instruction and students usually get better or they get worse and being at home, students aren't going to get better. Being here, At least I know I can provide a structure and instruction for them so we can increase their language arts, their math and give them opportunities to succeed academically," he said.

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LAUSD has been working on contingency plans for a strike to make sure learning still takes place, meals are served, kids are safe and that transportation is provided.

"We have about 17,000 homeless kids. Most of our families don't have another option. And so we are working with parent volunteers with substitutes, with teachers who are still going to come to work. With principals. Is it going to be a typical day? Of course not. But we are making sure that it's not just a babysitting situation. We'll be doing online lessons," LAUSD board member Nick Melvoin said.

The teachers union, on the other hand, has asked parents to keep their children home from the 1,200 LAUSD schools to show solidarity. The union says this isn't just about an increase in teacher pay, but smaller class sizes, more nurses, school psychologists, counselors and librarians.

"The big issue here is that we've had a disinvestment in our schools for a decade and moving more and more toward privatization that doesn't serve all kids and if it takes a short time of inconvenience and disruption, parents, community and teachers are willing to do that," said Alex Caputo-Pear, UTLA president.

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Caputo-Pearl, who is an LAUSD parent, said the union will do everything they can on Monday to try and reach an agreement with the district.

"My kids, if we strike, are not going to go to school, they're going to be on picket lines. Students can actually learn a lot by being a part of the movement to fight for what's right," Caputo-Pearl said.

The district says they're already spending their reserve funds on most of what the union has asked for - there's just not enough to cover everything.

"Of course we want to support our teachers and that's why we put forward a 6 percent raise, that's why we put forth tens of millions for class size reduction, counselors and nurses. We don't have more without going bankrupt," Melvoin said.

As long as schools are open during the strike, any absences by students will be marked as unexcused.
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