By Dan Whitcomb and Jane Ross
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The mayor of Los Angeles expressed support for the city’s striking teachers late on Monday, as 30,000 staff readied for a second day of a stoppage called to press demands for better pay, smaller classes and more staff.
With no signs of an agreement imminent overnight, thousands of teachers were again expected to man the picket lines on Tuesday.
Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) officials have said all schools will remain open during the strike, though the Los Angeles Times said more than two-thirds of the student population did not attend class on Monday.
The LAUSD is the second-largest U.S. school system, comprising some 640,000 students across around 900 campuses,
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, a Democrat who has up to now avoided taking sides in the dispute, expressed solidarity with the strikers.
“I am proud of our teachers and I admire the courage with which they remain steadfast in defending excellent schools and opportunities for our children,” he wrote on his Twitter feed.
Negotiators from the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) union have demanded a 6.5 percent pay raise, more librarians, counselors and nurses on campuses, smaller class sizes and less testing, as well as a moratorium on new charter schools.
Teacher pay currently averages $75,000 in the LAUSD, according the California Department of Education.
The district has offered a 6 percent hike with back pay and a $100 million investment to hire more staff and decrease class sizes.
No negotiations have been held since talks broke down Friday, since when teaching duties have been carried out by administrators and substitute teachers.
No school or union officials were available for comment early Tuesday.
Los Angeles County School Superintendent Austin Beutner urged union negotiators to return to the bargaining table, and State Governor Gavin Newsom called on both sides to find a deal.
“This impasse is disrupting the lives of too many kids and their families,” Newsom said in a statement his office issued Monday. “I strongly urge all parties to …find an immediate path forward that puts kids back into classrooms and provides parents (with) certainty.”
The LAUSD mostly serves children of working-class families who would struggle to provide childcare if classes were canceled.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb and Jane Ross in Los Angeles, additional reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York, Rich McKay in Atlanta and Scott Malone in Boston; editing by John Stonestreet)
Source: “Los Angeles” – Google News