How LAUSD is scrambling to prepare for a three-day strike affecting 420,000 children

A day after unions representing both teachers and support staff announced a three-day strike starting Tuesday, the Los Angeles Unified School District was scrambling to prepare for the impending closure of 1,000 campuses. – while trying to prevent the massive walkout.

Schoolwork will not be graded. Breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner for children from low-income families can be provided – from a location yet to be determined. Child care? It will be a challenge. Nonprofit groups across the city are rushing to help, but they won’t fill the void.

“We are trying to see if we can minimize the impact of a three-day strike on people to whom schools provide food and childcare in addition to education,” the school board chairman said. , Jackie Goldberg. “We’re not sure we can do that. But we’re not going to stop trying because we have four or five days to work on it.

There’s a lot to be done – and a lot of things that won’t be done.

Unable to provide supervision and safety for children with up to 65,000 workers on strike, the district said it had to close schools to students. The first walkout of the two largest unions in the district includes teachers, librarians, counsellors, nurses, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, gardeners, janitors and teaching assistants.

The campuses will however be open to employees who wish to work. They will be paid; the strikers will not. Keeping campuses open will also provide support for students and parents who quit with issues.

“We’re not going to exclude anyone,” Goldberg said. “Everyone will make their own decision.”

If enough employees choose to work on Tuesdays, the school system could reassess whether it could provide on-campus supervision and food for Wednesdays, she added.

Goldberg said she remains optimistic that a strike can be averted by making progress in negotiations with the two striking unions: United Teachers Los Angeles and Service Employees International’s Local 99.

“UTLA will negotiate with us from [Friday] morning,” Goldberg said Thursday. “And if it goes well, maybe they can encourage their partner in all of this to come back to the table. So I’m still optimistic, cautious, but optimistic.

The teachers’ union is demanding a 20% raise over two years, but has a detailed and far-reaching platform that includes guaranteed support for a special initiative for black students and housing for low-income families.

Local 99 officials deny that they have stopped bargaining, but as of early Thursday evening they had not scheduled talks ahead of Tuesday’s strike.

The union said it was waiting for state labor officials to set up an investigation panel as part of the bargaining process. If LA Unified wants to restart talks before then, the district will have to agree to the union’s demand for a 30% raise plus an additional $2 an hour raise for the lowest-paid workers, executive director Max said. Arias.

District officials are developing contingency plans to provide schoolwork, food and supervision.

Across the school system, principals held online meetings Thursday using a slide deck provided by central office.

Parents were told that students would be given a computer to use at home, if they didn’t already have one. Teachers should send home packets of pencils and paper for children in grades two and below. School websites will be filled with links to grade-appropriate general schoolwork developed by the school district.

Goldberg said it’s crucial that teachers prepare appropriate work for students – and they still have time to do so before the work stoppage.

“Things can change at any time,” an elementary school administrator told parents, adding that the school’s website would be updated day and night.

During a presentation at the school, worried parents wanted to know: will the strike last more than three days? Will missed days be made up?

The strike is scheduled for a fixed period, but there is no guarantee of a settlement by the end.

There are no plans to make up for missed days, although the district is encouraging parents to sign up for optional extra learning time already scheduled for April 3 and 4, the first two days of spring break.

Administrators also said schoolwork delivered during the strike would not count toward a student’s grade, a number of parents said.

‘The slides included all the wealth of academic connections to work that the kids ‘could’ ‘do because they don’t want them to sit around and not work,’ parent Frankie Bean, from the Reseda area, said in a group Parent Facebook. “Bottom line, it is NOT a substitute for work assigned by their beloved teachers. It is busy work and I am very grateful to our [vice-principal] for telling us parents that it was not mandatory.

Bean added, “No more district propaganda to make teachers look bad. “Hey kids, your teachers don’t care about you or your education, but look at these gifts we prepared for YOU, because WE care about you.”

The district has asked LA Mayor Karen Bass and other city officials for help.

The hope is that the city can quickly ramp up programs that typically operate during the summer – when most students are out of school. During the summer, these programs provide food, activities and supervision.

“The mayor is monitoring the situation closely and is in contact with all parties involved,” Bass spokesman Zach Seidl said.

Rose Watson, spokeswoman for the city’s recreation and parks department, said her agency plans to open up to 22 recreation centers across the city for day-long activities.

These locations would operate from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“It will be like what we did during COVID, where we provided services where we could help them with homework,” Watson said.

Goldberg said the district will try to provide food to these centers, although food service workers are represented by Local 99.

The school system extends well beyond the city limits of Los Angeles, so the potential collaboration extends to other cities and county agencies.

The county’s Parks and Recreation Department plans to offer all-day recreational activities at 16 of its parks, said Liz Odendahl, spokeswoman for Supervisor Janice Hahn.

Goldberg said the child custody issue would be the most difficult.

At the southern end of the district, leaders of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Port of Los Angeles decided to offer programming – arts, music, sports and academic activities – all day at its six non-school sites in San Pedro, Wilmington and other nearby neighborhoods.

On the three-day strike, doors would open at 8 a.m. instead of 2:30 p.m., said Mike Lansing, a former Los Angeles school board member and group chief executive. Breakfast, lunch and a snack would be offered during the day.

“We’re trying to get ahead of the game so we can help the families who normally rely on us,” he said.

But he admitted there would be limits.

“We can’t take everyone,” Lansing said. “We just don’t have the capacity. But anyone who is a member will be able to come for free,” he said. Annual subscriptions are $25.

In LA’s Eastside, nonprofit InnerCity Struggle plans to open its community center on Whittier Boulevard in Boyle Heights, offering educational activities, homework help and meals – breakfast, lunch and snacks – All day long.

Executive Director Henry Perez said the impact of a strike would be felt the most in the district’s low-income neighborhoods.

“I think parents are scrambling right now to figure out what they’re going to do with their children, both in terms of childcare and academically – the loss of learning time and school support” , did he declare.

A senior teacher at Playa Vista Elementary School sent an alert to parents saying she thought the shutdown could last longer and said pupils at the school would receive 10-day learning packets.

This school community, located in a more prosperous neighborhood, is looking into the “paid” childcare services that could be offered.

Groups across the district are “planning to open services for three days,” said Ana Teresa Dahan, chief executive of local education advocacy group GPSN. But there are “concerns that the same can be done if the situation continues to worsen”.

“People are in a difficult position wanting to support students and families but not wanting to relieve anyone of the responsibility and the pressure to resolve this situation,” she added.

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