Los Angeles teachers could lose — rather than gain — money for their classrooms by going on strike this week, according to a report from Moody’s Investor Services.
Teachers might strike as soon as tomorrow, demanding pay raises, smaller class sizes, and more support staff. But doing so could disrupt the district’s place in California’s education-funding model, which doles out money proportional to the number of students. The result: teachers could get an unintended funding cut if the district doesn’t agree to concessions.
According to the report, teacher absences are likely to drive down student attendance in the Los Angeles Unified School District (when teachers don’t show up, neither do students). Because California uses average attendance to determine how many students attend each district — and therefore how much money they need — Los Angeles likely will receive less next year.
“The district is likely to lose some state revenues based upon lower [average daily attendance] and will also have to pay substitute teachers,” the report says. “The district ended fiscal 2018 with close to $2.4 billion in available net cash in its general fund, and the strike is unlikely to result in liquidity difficulties. It will, however, divert resources from classroom purposes.”
A legal dispute over whether teachers gave the district enough notice could push the strike back to Monday, although union leaders are confident it happen one way or another.
“There will be a strike,” American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten said Tuesday. “I think a strike is imminent now.”
The United Teachers Los Angeles said today that the teachers union would push back its strike date to Monday.
The union’s more than 30,000 members had been poised to walk out on Thursday. Union leaders said the decision was made because of uncertainty over how a legal dispute concerning whether the union gave enough notice to strike to the district would be resolved.
The Los Angeles district is the nation’s second largest, with 80 percent of students qualifying for free or reduced lunch.
“Although we believe we would ultimately prevail in court, for our members, our students, parents, and the community, absent an agreement we will plan to strike on Monday,” said Alex Caputo-Pearl, the union president, in a statement.
The two sides were expected back at the bargaining table later today. The union and district leaders have clashed over issues such as teacher pay and funds to reduce classroom sizes.