LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- The Los Angeles Unified School District and its teachers union have reached an agreement over four optional instructional days that were added to the academic calendar in an effort to recoup learning lost during the pandemic, but which the union blasted as a stunt implemented without proper negotiations.
In late August, United Teachers Los Angeles announced that its members had voted overwhelmingly to boycott the first optional instruction day, which was set for Oct. 19.
But under an agreement reached between the district and union Tuesday, the optional days will instead be rescheduled during winter and spring breaks -- Dec. 19-20 and April 3-4. The days will remain optional, and teachers who opt to work will be paid at their regular salary rate.
District officials said the plan for the "Acceleration Days" is still being negotiated with some other employee unions.
"We are pleased that UTLA has accepted our proposal for the Student Acceleration Days, and we look forward to continued discussions with other labor partners," Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said in a statement. "We have been transparent with the Los Angeles Unified community regarding the need for Acceleration Days and providing greater opportunities for students most impacted by the pandemic to address learning loss.
"Though our original plan would have allowed real-time understanding of student gaps, this updated plan allows students to benefit from the instruction and support provided by fully staffed schools. At the end of the day, we will continue to do right by our students."
UTLA officials said moving the optional days to the winter and spring breaks will eliminate what the union called disruptions that would have been caused by holding them on "random Wednesdays" during the regular instructional calendar.
"The truth is four optional school days that create disruptions during the school year would not positively impact student learning as much as investing in smaller class sizes, increased mental health supports and robust extracurricular activities," union member and second-grade teacher Phylis Hoffman said in a statement released by UTLA. "That is why since LAUSD announced the accelerated days, principals, teachers, parents and students alike have all raised their voices to demand the district cancel the unilateral calendar changes they made in April without bargaining. Now, we can focus on real investments for our students. When we stand together, we win for our students, our schools, and our communities."
The optional days were originally scheduled on Oct. 19, Dec. 7, March 15 and April 19.
UTLA filed an unfair labor practices complaint against the district over the optional days issue, calling the move an overstepping of the district's authority and a failure to include teachers in discussions about how to recover learning time lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The additional school days were announced in April. Carvalho said at the time they "will be designed to provide a deep level of supplemental academic support for our students who need it the most -- students who have lost the most ground, students in foster care, students with English language limitations or one or more disabilities. We must have the courage and compassion to provide extended quality instruction time for these students and professional development for our teachers."
A district representative said Wednesday the extra instruction days will allow teachers and staff to work with students one-on-one or in small- group settings.
"Furthermore, the placement of these days during transition times provide an opportunity for strategy and analysis of formative data that allows for identification of the students who stand to benefit most from these days," according to the district.
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