STUMP » Articles » LA Teacher Strike Ends: Promises Made With Money Not in Hand » 24 January 2019, 12:18

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

LA Teacher Strike Ends: Promises Made With Money Not in Hand  

by

24 January 2019, 12:18

WSJ:Los Angeles Teachers, School District Announce Deal to End Weeklong Strike

LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said the pact included a 6% raise, additional staffing, and a reduction to class sizes, covering the union’s major demands. He said the nation’s second-largest school district agreed “to invest every nickel we have in our classrooms while maintaining the fiscal solvency of Los Angeles Unified.”

The deal includes $403 million to be spent through 2022 to add nurses, counselors and librarians at schools and to reduce class size. It doesn’t address health care and other retiree benefits, which the district has cited as a major strain on its finances.

….
Mr. Beutner and Mr. Caputo-Pearl said they were committed to working together to secure more funding for schools from state officials in Sacramento. California ranked 36th in the nation in per-pupil funding in the fall of 2017, according to the National Education Association.

So. I read the whole thing. I will look for more coverage, but my understanding has been this:

- LA Schools have been running at a deficit
- They ain’t got the money of
- They just promised to spend a lot more money
- But they don’t have any money… they hope the state will pony up

Well. I’m sure Gavin Newsom will get right on that… after all the other California Counties, etc., that are hurting for dough. Remember that 1-time contribution to Calstrs Newsom was talking about? I forgot Jerry Brown had made some noises like that in 2017. I forget if he actually followed through.

Oh, and by the way:

Teachers will return to work Wednesday after approving the deal struck by their union in a vote late Tuesday. The Los Angeles Unified School District, or LAUSD, had kept about 1,200 K-12 schools open using administrators and substitutes. But many parents chose to keep their children home during the six days of the strike, costing the district close to $100 million because most state funding is tied to attendance.

So the strike cost the district $100 million and they’re going to get $400 million more over the next few years? LA just has a half billion dollars sitting around?

I have questions – these aren’t fake. I just don’t know the answers to them.

- Does the LAUSD have the ability to raise revenue on their own? (issuing bonds is not raising revenue)

What I mean is, if they set their budget at whatever, can they set the property tax levels to get there, or is it some other governing body that actually sets tax rates?

- If the LAUSD does not actually have the ability to set its own budget (because it cannot alter revenue and others do that bit), why are they the proper agent to be negotiating with the teachers?

Yes, I understand that the money all ultimately comes from taxpayers, and the taxpayers aren’t at the negotiating table, but if the primary revenue source is the state, it seems it might be a good idea to get the state involved in negotiations.

Yes, legal yadda yadda, but if the school district says “Fine, an extra half billion spent over the next 3 years” — and the state goes “We’re not giving any of that to you.” Well, what’s your leverage? What’s the plan? Run out of money?

SEARCHING FOR THE MONEY

Let’s see what the LA Times says. Obviously, they’re the closest to the action… here’s an editorial:

The strike’s over. Now what?

On Wednesday, some 31,000 Los Angeles teachers will be back in school. Nearly half a million students will get back to learning. And parents’ lives will be back to normal after the six-day strike and the weeks of uncertainty leading up to it.

It has been a deeply disruptive period — and expensive as well, both for teachers, who went without pay, and for the Los Angeles Unified School District itself, which lost well over $100 million in state funding tied to student attendance. On the positive side, the strike did something that could prove transformative in the coming years: It put the importance of a quality education front and center in the public psyche. The urgency and attention generated by the strike must not now be allowed to fade.

For more than a week, teachers, families and supporters marched and picketed in support of their schools. And anyone following the news got a crash course in the strike’s main issues: overcrowded classrooms, understaffed campuses, unsustainable pension liabilities, inadequate state funding and the role that privately operated charter schools play in public education.

That’s good, because those issues are not going away, and because fixing Los Angeles’ schools will ultimately require more money. That, in turn, will require squeezing more aid from Sacramento and could mean voter approval of new taxes as well.

So, my understanding was correct.

This negotiation was bullshit.

The person being negotiated with has no power to make sure there is enough to fulfill the promises.

So what happens if they go to the state, cap in hand, with a “please sir, can I have more?”

And they got the treatment that Oliver Twist got? (spoiler alert: he did not get more)

Okay, so now we got to the taxpayers … and they say no.

What then? You’re going to strike against the taxpayers?

I’m going to love to watch that happen.

Back to the editorial:

The agreement also calls for the district, the union and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti to advocate for local and state measures to increase education funding, which is woefully insufficient. California ranks near the bottom nationwide in per-pupil spending when the cost of living is factored in.

I am sure that those players did not need their arms twisted to be told to lobby for more state money.

In an LA Times news piece: Deal by union, LAUSD ends the strike; Teachers to return to work after ‘historic’ gains were made in fight over pay, class sizes and staffing.

It was not immediately clear whether L.A. Unified was putting more money into smaller classes than it had in its final offer before the strike began — which the union quickly rejected. It could be that the modest reductions proposed by L.A. Unified were simply replaced by different modest reductions that the union preferred.

The union did win on removing a contract provision that has allowed the school district to increase class sizes in times of economic hardship — which is something teachers very much wanted.

Oh, that’s going to be fun when the money runs out.

What would happen to classes in the future when the district was forced to make budget cuts was not explained, but Caputo-Pearl on Tuesday brought up how the district and teachers responded to the 2008 recession. That crisis led to layoffs, but unions and their members also agreed to unpaid furlough days to cut costs and save jobs.

Clearly, the money fairy will come to visit.

In the end, union negotiators could not change district officials’ determination that L.A. Unified remains at financial risk moving forward. In the joint news conference to announce the agreement, Caputo-Pearl breezed past this question, saying that he and Beutner still had disagreements over some of the budget numbers.

Reality has a bad way of not changing if only you wish hard enough.

Throughout negotiations, district officials said the union demands were far more than the school system could afford.

Before it can take effect, the deal must be reviewed by the Los Angeles County Office of Education, which will report on whether it thinks L.A. Unified can afford the terms.

The L.A. school board has scheduled a vote for Jan. 29. The board’s approval is expected.

Curious how many on the school board are finance people. Just asking.

The long-term next step, both the union and the district say, is to harness the momentum of the strike to get voters and lawmakers to provide better funding for schools.

Good luck with that. Maybe they can convince LA voters to approve higher taxes.

But one to thing to remember: Needing is different from Getting.

Which gives me the excuse to link to a really cool music video:

Best wishes, LA Schools!


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