LAUSD board to vote on proposed teachers agreement

The Los Angeles Unified school board is scheduled to take up a three-year teachers contract on Tuesday.
The Los Angeles Unified school board is scheduled to take up a three-year teachers contract on Tuesday.
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A new teacher evaluation system and a double-digit pay hike are among the items in a tentative agreement up for a vote before the Los Angeles Unified school board on Tuesday.

The board is scheduled to meet in closed session to take up the proposed contract, which is also subject to a vote by the 31,000-member United Teachers Los Angeles union.

LAUSD has not released the total cost of the three-year deal, which calls for a 10 percent pay increase in the first two years and a reopener in the third year. 

The school board has already approved a three-year, $3.3 billion employee health package, which prompted board member Monica Ratliff to call for a long-term analysis of the district's financial obligations. Her proposal was rejected by the board.

The vote on the health care benefits came even though the board still has not seen a draft budget for the next school year. The same will be true for the vote on the teachers' contract unless the draft budget is released before the board takes action.

In their labor negotiations, the two sides resolved one of their more contentious items, a teachers' evaluation process. Details of the evaluations still need to be worked out, but the teachers agreed to a three-tiered system in which teachers would be ranked as exceeding, meeting, or falling below standards.

The evaluation process would take effect in the 2016-2017 school year.

In the union's summary of the agreement, there was no reference to using student test data to evaluate teachers, which former Superintendent John Deasy had advocated.

Superintendent Ramon Cortines pushed teachers to accept a three-level evaluation system in the latest contract talks because that’s what federal education officials requires for LAUSD to tap $171 million in federal funds.

For years, LAUSD teachers' evaluations ranked the instructors as either meeting expectations or not meeting expectations.

In 2013, Deasy replaced that system with evaluations that called for four performance levels and incorporated student test results. The teachers union said Deasy’s change opened the door to unfair merit pay for the top performing teachers and it successfully challenged the change after appealing to the California Board of Education.

"The District is extremely pleased with the multi-tiered final evaluation system that allows us to evaluate our employees in a more robust way," LAUSD said in a statement Monday on its website.

The district said the agreement moves it closer to accessing $171 million in federal funds, "which will go towards summer school for our students and other very necessary services."  

The tentative agreement also designates $13 million to reduce English and math class sizes in 8th and 9th grade. Another $13 million will increase counseling services to help students prepare for college and careers, the district said.

"“There’s nothing more valuable than our youth – and the people that are at our schools helping them day in and day out, are worth every penny. I encourage my colleagues to vote yes with me on this much deserved agreement," Board President Richard Vladovic said in a statement.