LAUSD teachers strike: Bargaining talks to continue Saturday

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The Los Angeles Unified School district and the teachers union concluded bargaining talks Friday night and will resume Saturday.

The United Teachers Los Angeles union and LAUSD officials ended another round of talks at City Hall that was mediated by L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti shortly after 9 p.m. The next negotiations meeting is expected to begin at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Superintendent Austin Beutner held a press conference and said while he cannot discuss the details of the negotiations, he said he's glad they're being done.

"I'm optimistic because it has to be. We need our educators and our students back in school come Tuesday morning, so the onus is on us. The onus is on us as leaders to do what we have to do in the next 48/72 hours to make sure schools are open," he said.

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The union held a demonstration at Grand Park to show support for teachers as the strike and bargaining talks continued. Musicians Aloe Blacc and Tom Morello were among the celebrities who attended the support rally at Grand Park.

The strike is affecting nearly 600,000 students. Just over 85,000 students were in class Friday, which is up by about 1,000 from Thursday.

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By the end of the strike's fifth day, the district said it lost about $125 million in state revenue payments that are based on student attendance.

Reducing class size has been a major sticking point in negotiations, as well as having more nurses and counselors in schools and higher pay. The LAUSD and teachers union have been trying to get a new contract for two years with no success. Control of charter schools is also a big factor.

"If we allow this movement to win, then our schools will be privatized, our students will have less equity and less access, and our jobs and our healthcare will be attacked," said UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl at the rally.

The school district said it can't afford to do everything the union is demanding, but the union disagrees.

"What we need to do is work with the union to get more resources, you know, it's a funding issue: the lower class sizes, we want to hire new teachers. Our offer right now is to bring in 1,300 more employees to lower class size, bring nurses and counselors. To do more, we need commitment from the union to work collectively toward getting more money from Sacramento," said Nick Melvoin, of the LAUSD.
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