By Connie Llanos Staff Writer | Daily Breeze/Daily News | http://bit.ly/lA3uCj
Posted: 05/27/2011 07:47:16 PM PDT - Capping weeks of heated negotiations, Los Angeles Unified officials announced Friday they had tentatively come to an agreement with the teachers union on a contract that avoids many of the cuts threatened for next year and mandates four furlough days for educators.
Superintendent John Deasy said leaders of the 40,000-strong United Teachers Los Angeles worked with the district "to provide a solution for next year that brings stability - and the majority of our employees - back to the classroom."
The deal, which must still be approved by the school board and UTLA's members, restores cuts to preschool education, campus libraries and magnet services and saves the jobs of at least 3,400 teachers, nurses, counselors and librarians, officials said.
Some 1,700 educator jobs are still at risk of elimination because of declining enrollment in the nation's second-largest district and the expiration of federal stimulus funding.
However, district officials said they expect at least some of those jobs to be saved through retirement, attrition of other employees, and the possibility of schools buying back positions.
It's also possible the district could restore a 180-day calendar, after having been slashed by one week for the last two years.
District officials stressed, however, that the agreement is contingent upon some $3 billion in state funding, which state officials have said will be available only if tax extensions are placed on a ballot this fall and approved by voters.
"Should the actual, approved state budget and revenue limit come in above our proposed budget ... we will be in a position to incrementally reduce the number of furlough days for all our bargaining partners," Deasy said.
"If there is huge decline in revenues ... the district and all of its bargaining partners will be compelled to reopen negotiations."
A.J. Duffy, UTLA president, had a rosier outlook of the district's budget picture.
The union and the district have disagreed on their analysis of the state's latest budget. While district officials contend that an increase in funding is contingent on tax extensions being approved, union officials have said they believe LAUSD could receive as much as $300 million in additional cash next year.
"I believe our numbers are accurate and that eventually this deal will save as many as 5,000 teachers," he said.
"I'm ecstatic to leave office knowing that these people will have their jobs back," the outgoing union leader said.
The tentative agreement follows months of negotiations, which at times threatened to come to impasse.
The union and the district are also at odds over several school reforms, including LAUSD's plans to try out a new teacher evaluation system that will include student test scores and the turnover of low-performing schools to charter operators.
Duffy said the union felt that those disagreements should not interfere with these negotiations, which have the potential of saving so many jobs.
With UTLA agreeing to the district's deal, seven of the district's nine unions have now signed on to a furlough package. If signed by all nine unions, district officials said, the deal would save about 5,700 jobs, although the district still would have to lay off about 1,900 workers.
"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," Deasy said.
"In the meantime, all those who care about public education in this state must continue to apply pressure on Sacramento to fund education above the current pathetic, substandard levels."
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