A deal that lets LAUSD and the teachers union proclaim victory
Michael Janofsky | April 21, 2015
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Views of an agreement:
The salary raises agreed upon in the deal between LA Unified and the teachers union, UTLA, is a win for both sides. Of, course, each side can spin the results in a different way.
For the teachers, they can legitimately say they got a double-digit boost, 10 percent over two years.
The district could say the breakdown reflects a 4 percent bonus for all those (eight) years when teachers got nothing, 2 percent to come from extra money the state will send the district’s way through revised state budget projections and 2 percent a year for each of the next two years, which is basically what the district’s other labor partner unions got.
The teachers unions also got a “reopener,” which means the contract can be reexamined at its conclusion to calibrate additional money for teachers in the years that follow. Assuming there is additional money. The challenge for the district is figuring a way to find new revenue.
One way is through increasing enrollment, which has been steadily declining for years, costing millions of dollars.
There’s also a ballot initiative that goes before voters in November 2016 that would alter the state taxing scheme under Prop 13, making it easier to raise rates on commercial property. Passage would improve the changes the district would consider a schedule of more raises.
The road from tentative agreement to final agreement started today, with the school board meeting to approve the deal agreed upon at 10:38 pm last Friday. Union members will be doing the same, voting between May 1 and 7, with the tabulation scheduled for May 8. Once they sign off, it goes back to the school board for final approval.
Most teachers, by the way, will be voting the old-fashion way, by paper ballots at school sites. Some teachers have opted for electronic voting.
Final approval by both sides will just about clear the way for the school board to start the process of identifying candidates to replace Superintendent Ramon Cortines, who returned to the job last year following the resignation of John Deasy.
Cortines turns 83 on July 22. His energy and commitment to details betrays that, but it’s doubtful he’ll want to hang around LA Unified much beyond this academic year.
Replacing him will be a tricky proposition. The job requires someone with more than superb management skills. Political skills are a must, as well, given the polarity of views that remain inside the LA Unified community.
While labor peace with the teachers is apparently at hand for a few years, there remains the death struggle between reformers and traditionalists.
Presuming all seven board members vote to approve the deal, once the union signs off, labor peace with the teachers pulls a big issue off the table for the three members running for reelection on May 19 — Tamar Galatzan, Bennett Kayser and President Richard Vladovic.
Alas, that leaves charter schools — pro or con — as the biggest wedge issue, at least in two of the races. Galatzan and Kayser’s opponent, Ref Rodriguez, are strong proponents of charters; her opponent, Scott Schmerelson, and Kayser, not so much.
Already, the independent expenditure groups on both sides of the issue have plowed nearly half a million dollars into the two races.
Unclear what the biggest issue is in Vladovic’s race against Lydia Gutierrez. He has the endorsement of both the state charter schools and the teachers union.