A strike at the nation’s second-largest school district this week has cost nearly $100 million.
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Negotiations between the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) resumed on Thursday after more than 30,000 educators walked off the job this week.
While schools remained open, attendance has been low. On Wednesday, less than one-third of students attended classes, according to preliminary data from the district. Those numbers were expected to have fallen even further as the week carried on.
Since state funding is doled out based on daily attendance, the school district has estimated that the strikes cost about $97 million through Thursday – averaging more than $20 million per day.
There are more than 600,000 students across the 900 LAUSD schools. On Thursday, only about 84,000 of those children were estimated to have attended.
The strike is the union’s first in three decades. Among the group’s demands are higher pay, smaller class sizes, more support staff members, as well as addressing the $600 million worth of resources allegedly drained away to prop up charter schools.
The school district – which projects a budget deficit of about $500 million this year – has said the union’s demands could cause it to go bankrupt, according to The Los Angeles Times. The union is said to be seeking a 6.5 percent raise at the outset of a two-year contract.
The Los Angeles teacher’s union has been emboldened by the success of similar movements in other states – including West Virginia, where schools closed for nine days as teachers fought for higher wages and better benefits. In March, they ultimately scored a 5 percent pay raise.
Educators held more strikes in 2018 than at any other time in the past 25 years, according to The Wall Street Journal.