How parents are preparing for a possible LAUSD strike

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Parents and students at Clover Avenue Elementary march in support of the LAUSD teachers and to shed light on the "Charter issue we have here in LA." Photo by Jenny Hamel/KCRW

A possible teachers strike might break out Thursday. Parents will have to decide whether to keep their kids home or send them to school. KCRW’s Jenny Hamel has been following the story, and was out talking to parents this morning. She lays out what you need to know:

Who is striking?

The United Teachers of Los Angeles union represents more than 30,000 Los Angeles Unified School District teachers, librarians, counselors, nurses, and other educators. They will all go on strike if a deal is not reached.

What are they asking for?

UTLA says their members are fighting for the survival of public schools.  Union president Alex Caputo-Pearl says “privatizers” like Superintendent Austin Beutner are draining public schools year after year, so that ultimately they can be turned into privately run charter schools.

UTLA is asking for a 6.5 percent salary increase with back pay to July, 2016. But the union’s list of demands goes well beyond salary. They’re also demanding contract language limiting class sizes, more hiring of nurses, counselors and librarians, reducing the amount of standardized testing and accountability measures for charter schools.

UTLA wants the district to tap into it’s nearly $1.9 billion reserve to make these substantive changes.

What does LAUSD say?

LAUSD has offered a 6 percent raise with back pay with no conditions. The district has also offered $30 million to hire more nurses, counselors and librarians. The district’s offer aligns with the recommendations made by the neutral fact finding panel appointed by the state.

As for the $1.9 billion reserve, Superintendent Austin Beutner says it exists, but is already being spent. Beutner says the district has sent a $24 billion, three year budget to the state and the county. However, Beutner says the district won’t even bring in that amount during that time, so is already deficit spending.

Should you send your kids to school?

LAUSD has said that the regular school schedule will be observed during the strike - that includes morning and after school programs. Superintendent Austin Beutner is urging parents to keep sending their kids to school during the strike and assures them that “students will be safe and will keep learning.”

But with the district replacing over 30,000 striking union members with hundreds of substitutes and parent volunteers, some parents are choosing to keep their kids at home rather than sending them to campus. Many working parents don’t have childcare alternatives and will send their kids to school.

How long will it last?

There’s no telling how long a strike could last. The last LAUSD strike in 1989 went for nine days before a deal was reached. A strike this go around will undoubtedly be as disruptive to campuses and students, so district officials and teachers will want to see resolution sooner than later.

What questions do you have about the looming strike?