LAUSD, teachers union reach tentative agreement

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Mike Roe/KPCC

Demonstrators protest LAUSD's proposed budget cuts at a rally at L.A.'s Pershing Square on Friday, May 13, 2011.

The Los Angeles Unified School District announced Friday it has reached a tentative agreement with its largest union, which could save about 3,400 jobs and maintain class sizes in elementary schools at their current levels.

In exchange, United Teachers Los Angeles members would take four furlough days in the coming school year -- three teaching days and one day when students are not in school.

The agreement caps months of heated debate between teachers union leaders and top school administrators. United Teachers Los Angeles staged large rallies urging the district to protect all teacher jobs and cut administrative budgets instead. L.A. Unified said it needed to prepare for a worst-case funding scenario.

The four furlough days will cancel out all but 1600 of the 5,000 preliminary dismissals the school district sent to employees with teaching credentials.

The teachers union said LA Unified could rescind all those notices. The school district did not predict the same.

"While this agreement does not restore all the cuts -- because our schools are still drastically underfunded -- it goes a long way toward providing the resources and personnel for our students to succeed,'' LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy said in a statement.

The agreement hinges on how much money may land in state coffers. Recent predictions suggest that this year’s picture looks a lot better than last year’s, but if the state budget sinks further into the red, L.A. Unified teachers would have to take six furlough days instead of four. If districts receive unexpected money, they’d subtract employee furlough days.

"This agreement demonstrates that when UTLA and the district collaborate, problems can be solved to the benefit of our students,'' UTLA President A.J. Duffy said.

Teachers and the school board still must approve the furlough deal. Teachers took seven unpaid furlough days this school year.

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