By Nathan Solis
LOS ANGELES (CN) – The end of a week-long teacher strike in Los Angeles may be near, as nearly 30,000 union members and educators set to vote on a proposed contract Tuesday.
The tentative deal addresses reductions in classroom size and better pay for educators, along with the hiring of more nurses, counselors and librarians across the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Union members will review and vote on the proposed contract after an agreement was reached following marathon bargaining sessions at Los Angeles City Hall over the weekend. If approved, teachers at the nation’s second largest school district will return to classrooms Wednesday.
“The frustration felt by our educators, the poverty that impacts our students and the politicized nature of leadership in Los Angeles Unified have been decades in the making,” Los Angeles School District Superintendent Austin Beutner said. “The strike nobody wanted is behind us.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti called the proposed deal the start of a “new chapter” for public education in Los Angeles.
“This is a good agreement, a historic agreement,” Garcetti said.
Beutner echoed Garcetti’s sentiment. “Today marks a new chapter in public education, a new chapter for Los Angeles Unified,” he said.
When asked by a reporter if the strike helped spur the deal, Garcetti was blunt.
“There’s no question. Look, the strike was painful and it had a cost. The strike helped at the end of the day, listening to each other helped, and I think some mutual territory helped,” said Garcetti.
United Teachers of Los Angeles Alex Caputo-Pearl said the strike was a decade in the making.
“My view is that educators and parents reached a boiling point. It’s not just a boiling point over the last six months. But over the last 10 years,” he said.
Details of the offer were not immediately available, but union representatives and school district officials said the deal was part of a new approach to public education in Los Angeles and they expect the deal to be ratified by the end of the day.
Educators from over 1,200 schools first took to the picket lines Jan. 14. Union representatives say more than 15,000 parents have joined the strike, and the school district says it’s losing between $22 million to $24 million a day due to waning student attendance.
The latest figures offered by the district late Thursday estimated the loss of state funding at about $125 million, some of which is offset because striking teachers do not get paid.
The proposed contract will expire in June and sets up a new contract for a three-year agreement that will be reviewed later this year.