Teachers deal has high price

first_imgDuffy also plans to work with area leaders in lobbying for state lawmakers to increase LAUSD funding. “We want the … mayors of the 26 cities that have children in the Los Angeles Unified School District to be part of this effort to go upstate, twist arms and convince legislators that if they don’t put money into public education, public education will die,” Duffy said. Analysts said not having enough money to cover salary costs is a problem that will continue to haunt the district until public attitudes change toward teacher pay. “Providing adequate salaries for teachers should not have to be as problematic as it is,” said Sylvia Rousseau, a University of Southern California professor of clinical education who formerly worked as District 7 superintendent for the LAUSD. “Obviously, there are huge problems because we as a public haven’t decided that teachers are valuable enough to adequately compensate. It creates huge conflicts between districts and unions, and this is an issue the public needs to take much more seriously.” Disputes not over While the deal allowed the LAUSD to fend off a threatened strike by teachers, the school drama appeared far from over. The deal bumps the average teacher salary from $60,162 to $63,772 annually, retroactive to July, but leaves negotiations open for the balance of the three-year agreement. “Within two months, we’ll hear the same fight: `We need to cut bureaucrats and protect teachers and their salaries,”‘ said LAUSD board member David Tokofsky. But the next couple of months also hold the promise of a hard-fought election, with the UTLA as a major campaign contributor, for four of the seven school board seats. “It may be that the outgoing board tried to resolve as much as they could and left it to the new board to finish up the hard part,” said Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies. “The union’s trying to figure out where it’ll be after the election, as well. It’s really uncertain how that’ll go.” Also upcoming is a final court ruling on L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s plan to take over significant control of the district. A former labor leader, he issued a statement saying he was pleased with the contract. “I’ve said from the beginning that we need to pay teachers more, and I’m heartened that this offer does that,” Villaraigosa said. Millions for health During the news conference, board member Jon Lauritzen noted that the district will spend more than $800 million to provide lifetime health benefits for current and retired teachers. The rationale, he said, was that UTLA members had earned the benefit by forgoing pay increases in previous years. “I don’t take so much credit for the raise, but I do take full credit for the health benefits,” said Lauritzen, a former high school teacher. “I took the lead on that in the beginning, and that’s one of the main concerns I hear about from (teachers).” When negotiations formally opened last May, Duffy insisted on raises of at least 9 percent. Management negotiators made a counteroffer in November of 3 percent, touching off months of contention. Given that union members had planned to take a strike authorization vote this week, the amicable resolution is something to celebrate, said Jaime Regalado, executive director of the Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Institute of Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles. “It’s a major political milestone, especially for Brewer,” Regalado said. “He’s the new kid on the block stepping into the hornet’s nest. Having this major battle out of the way, it softens the political environment for everyone.” kerry.cavanaugh@dailynews.com (213) 978-0390 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “We will do our part to create efficiencies here at Los Angeles Unified,” said Brewer, a retired Navy admiral appointed just three months ago to head the district. “I’m going to make Los Angeles Unified a very, very efficient, clean, mean machine. But I’m still going to need more money to run the district.” Duffy to help lobby UTLA President A.J. Duffy said the union was happy with plans to reduce class size and with Brewer’s pledge to cut bureaucracy in the nation’s second-largest school district. “I’m hoping in all sincerity that the words I hear from Superintendent Brewer – not just today but in private conversations – are that he will understand that realignments must occur,” Duffy said. A new contract that gives Los Angeles teachers a 6 percent raise and reduces class size will cost the Los Angeles Unified School District $200 million more than budgeted, and officials vowed Tuesday that they’ll cut bureaucracy to help close the funding gap. During an afternoon news conference, district officials formally announced the three-year contract that gives the 48,000 members of United Teachers Los Angeles a 6 percent raise the first year, with the successive years open to negotiation. Coupled with full health care benefits, the deal will cost taxpayers $300 million this year. The district also will phase in smaller class sizes at specific low-performing schools, a program that will cost an estimated $343 million over three years. Superintendent David Brewer III said the $200 million will have to come out of the district’s general fund to cover provisions of the contract. That means, he said, that he’ll have to trim the district’s bureaucracy and seek more money from the state. last_img