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Los Angeles District, Teachers Forge Tentative Agreement, Elude Strike

Guest post by Jordan Moeny, crossposted from Teaching Now.

After nearly a year of negotiations and the threat of a strike, the Los Angeles school district has reached a tentative agreement with the teachers' union, settling on a deal that would increase teacher salaries by 10 percent.

The teachers' current contract with the district expired in 2011, according to Reuters, and teachers haven't received a salary bump since 2008. An impasse in February led to four mediation sessions, the most recent of which was on April 17 and produced the tentative agreement, which can be read in full on the United Teachers Los Angeles website.

At the center of the agreement is a 10 percent pay raise to be phased in over two years, starting retroactively at the start of the current (2014-15) school year. Though this falls short of the 17.6 percent raise the union asked for earlier this year, it's a dramatic improvement over the one-time 2 percent increase the district proposed last May.

The agreement also includes what UTLA calls "unprecedented class size caps": 27 to 30 students in elementary schools, and 30 to 39 students in the upper grades, depending on the type of school.

Though the contract includes $13 million in funding for school counselors and a Health Services Task Force to look into providing more counselors, nurses, and social workers, the Los Angeles Daily News points out that in exchange, UTLA dropped its demand for more than 2,000 additional support staff positions.

Concerning the recent ruling that the district violated labor laws in 2013 by rolling out a new teacher- evaluation system without the approval of union members, the tentative agreement lays out an interim evaluation procedure for the next school year. The interim measures reduce the number of formal observations and "Informal Growth Plan" visits, make the self-reflection elements of the process voluntary for teachers, and redefine the final ratings teachers can receive. The agreement also sets up a process for the creation of a new system to be put in place in 2016-17.

Once approved by the school board and the union's 30,000 members, the agreement would last through the end of the 2016-2017 school year.

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