LA teachers union approves deal to shorten year, cancel layoffs

A student reads in the classroom.
A student reads in the classroom.
Jonathan Pobre/Flickr CC

Los Angeles Unified School District teachers have approved a tentative contract agreement calling for a shortened school year, work furloughs and the cancellation of 2,109 planned layoffs.

The teachers voted 79.27 to 20.73 percent to approve the two-year agreement reached by their union, United Teachers Los Angeles — also known as UTLA — and district representatives in late March.

Voting took place at school sites throughout the district April 7-10 and ballots were counted today at UTLA headquarters. However, the agreement will not become final until after the LAUSD board votes Tuesday.

"This agreement makes the best of a difficult situation,'' UTLA president A.J. Duffy said in a prepared statement. "No educator wants students to lose instructional days, but the damage of bigger class sizes and losing teacher and support staff whom students know and trust would be greater.''

With an estimated $640 million deficit looming, district officials had sent layoff notices to 2,826 teachers and support staff members and were readying plans to increase class sizes. But the tentative agreement scales back those plans significantly.

Under the new agreement, layoff notices to 1,825 teachers and 284 employees in health and human services and other support positions such as counselors and librarians will be withdrawn.

Class sizes for students in kindergarten through third grades will remain at 24 students per teacher rather than the planned 29. Class size increases for grades 4 through 8 will also be canceled.

The LAUSD school year will also be shortened by one week.

In addition, UTLA members will take five furlough days in the current 2009-10 school year and seven in 2010-11. Two of the 2010-11 furlough days will also be days off for students.

However, UTLA officials say these changes will not resolve the district's financial woes.

"We now need to find longterm solutions to the budget crisis so that the classroom is not continuously threatened,'' Duffy said in the union's prepared statement. ``We will be vigilant in continuing to force the district to be more efficient and to drive resources to local school sites.''