Will There Be A Strike? What Happens Then?

If you haven’t heard, there’s been quite a bit of rumor swirling around about a potential teachers strike as LAUSD and UTLA (United Teachers of Los Angeles) hash out their labor negotiations. What does this mean? What will happen? When will it happen? What happens to my kids’ school if there’s a strike? What if I have to work when there’s a strike? Will schools shut down? Who’ll watch my kids???

I know. I know. So many questions, so many unknowns. These are good questions. All of them. For all of us.

I received the following additional questions from a working mom today, which made me decide to tackle these questions and share my response more widely with all of you parents in the hopes that it provide you with some understanding of where we are at currently with this pending situation.

Q: As you have heard, the LAUSD is possibly going on strike. We have been told by the principal that they will still have classes that will be combined and taught by administrators should there be a strike. Further, they are saying that if we do not attend these classes that our son would be marked as absent. This seems illegal to me. Do you know who I can contact that would know about whether or not some of these suggested strike actions are legal?
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Ok, let’s dive into this.
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In a perfect world, LAUSD and UTLA will be able to settle their differences, and come up with a workable solution through the mediation process they are currently going through, and avoid a strike altogether. However, UTLA’s members have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, and if they feel they need to use that tactic to get what they want, they have agreed to stand together should their leaders enact that option. Latest word I heard was that if it did happen, the strike wouldn’t be until December, but who knows. The negotiations are done privately. At any point if the mediation process breaks down, then yes, a strike is a definite possibility.

Meanwhile, LAUSD, and specifically LAUSD School Board Vice President Nick Melvoin, have assured me that should there be a strike, schools will NOT be shut down, they will bring in subs or whomever they can (administrators) to keep schools in session.

Also, understand that schools get paid by their ADA – Average Daily Attendance – money. This is just a fact of how schools are funded in our California public school system, which is why they are so adamant that attendance stay high, and if your child is not in school, why they insist you bring a doctor’s note or legitimate written excuse so they can still collect the daily attendance dollars. If a child is marked absent without an excuse, called an “unexcused absence,” schools are docked that child’s ADA amount for that day. So cumulatively, they are losing a lot of money due to absences. And this is why, at the end of the year if your child has more than 7 unexcused absences (you forgot to send the note!) they send you some threatening letter with a bunch of legalese under threat of prosecution that it is your parental responsibility to get your child to school or they will sue you. It’s all about money. And they are serious. [You can read all about excused and unexcused absences and attendance and Ed Code in this handy LAUSD tome, “School Attendance – A Parents Guide.” Or how chronically absent students cost a district millions of dollars here. And read the CA Legislative Analyst’s Office 2018 Update of K-12 Student Attendance and Funding.]

So, back to the labor issue. If there’s a strike and the majority of students walk out too – schools will not be getting paid their ADA funds multiplied by all the students who are absent during a strike. Meaning, the strike will not only affect teachers who will lose teacher pay for each day gone, but school budgets will also be impacted with lost ADA funds each day a strike wages on and students do not attend. It is NOT a win-win. It is quite a lose-lose for everyone, unless UTLA and LAUSD can end up cutting a deal they can live with and UTLA calls off the strike threat.

Complicating matters is that with the rising fiscal cliff of unpaid health and pension benefits careening towards LAUSD, taking up a significant portion of the annual operating budget and driving them towards near insolvency, if LAUSD doesn’t balance their budget, the State and County have already come knocking twice to warn LAUSD that they WILL take over if they cut a deal with UTLA that they cannot afford. So it is a dramatic time right now as both sides continue the mediation process. A process which is done between the negotiating partners, which we-the-people-the-stakeholders have no say or control over.

It’s worth mentioning that since Independent Charters have the flexibility to hire and fire and negotiate their own staff’s benefit packages directly, and have the autonomy to manage their own budgets and governance decisions, they will NOT be impacted at all should there be a strike.

But LAUSD neighborhood schools, Affiliated Converted Charter schools, Magnets, Dual Language Programs, Schools For Advanced Studies (SAS) Programs, Small Learning Communities (SLCs), Academic Criteria Schools (ACS), as well as other Specialized Academies within LAUSD, will ALL be impacted by these negotiations and potential strike.

I hope this explanation helps you understand the process and ramifications. I am holding hope that the strike is avoided and a settlement can be reached. For all our sakes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PHBAO, Overcrowded and Twins Points UPDATE for 2018-19 Magnet Application

 

OVERCROWDED POINTS UPDATE
It’s been brought to my attention that there are a handful of neighborhood schools, out of the nearly 1300 within LAUSD, that will buy you an extra four “Overcrowded” points on the Magnet eChoices application.

Overcrowded points historically were assigned for zoned schools that were so full they had to operate on a multi-track year, meaning a group of students started school in the fall, and another group started in the summer or even in multiple tracks in multiple months, and school went year-round in order to fit everyone in.

After LAUSD spent all those billions of dollars worth of bond money building out 131 new schools over the past decade, (the largest buildout in the country btw), we ended multi-track schools, we ended CAP sending and receiving, (busing kids from overcrowded schools to under-enrolled schools), the final multi-track school, Bell High School, went to a single track calendar and those 4 “Overcrowded” points went the way of the dodo bird, from what I understood. They became extinct. Nobody had them.

But I just spent 20 minutes on hold with the LAUSD Office of Student Integration (you’re welcome) in order to verify this astounding discovery. While so many schools across LAUSD are now under-enrolled, there are currently 9 LAUSD schools that are in OVERCROWDED status believe it or not, according to last year’s list, meaning if you are zoned to one of these schools, you get an extra 4 points!

Now, I was told that this is last year’s list and the new list for 2018-19 will not come out until December – AFTER the Magnet deadline – however, she did confirm that these are the schools on the current Overcrowded list:

92nd Street
Bridges
Carpenter EL
Dixie Canyon EL
Franklin EL
Hesby Oaks
Kittridge EL
MacArthur Park VAPA EL
Wisdom EL

Playa Vista EL and Westwood EL, who have recently moved their TK programs off to nearby hub schools to make additional room on campus were on my mind, which I specifically asked about, and as far as she was concerned, were not on the list. Yet. Check back in December though when the list updates.

PHBAO POINTS
As for determining PHBAO status, in addition to calling your zoned school’s office, or waiting 20-30 minutes on hold for a person at the Office of Student Integration to get to your call, I found this PHBAO LIST of Schools online, (also to be updated in December), but it will at least give you a good idea of current standings. PHBAO stands for Predominantly Hispanic, Black, Asian and Other, (i.e. the majority is non-Caucasian) and if you are zoned to one of these schools, you get 4 points. We cover this extensively in my talks and consultations, and you can learn all about points in my latest guidebook, The GoMamaGuide to LAUSD.

***ALSO NEW! TWINS/MULTIPLES ADVANTAGE
For 2018-19, eChoices finally worked some magic to support families with TWINS and MULTIPLES!! Before now, each child was treated as an individual and took their shot in the lottery, which meant many times only one child would get in and the other twin was out of luck until the following year when they would get those extra 3 sibling points. Now, if one twin gets in, the other twin or multiples jump up to the next number(s) on the top of the list. Meaning, if there is one more seat available, they will get it. In essence, finally being able to allow twins and multiples to get in together in the same program in the same year.

We discussed how crazily upward trending (and by that I mean unaffordable) real estate has started to force out diversity in certain neighborhoods, so schools that once were PHBAO, are no longer PHBAO, and therefore families who have siblings already attending the magnet program who have a younger rising sibling whose zoned school has fallen out of PHBAO will likely have NO chance of getting their siblings in, since Sibling status only gives you 3 points, yet PHBAO status gives someone 4 points. Since this whole magnet system works on a weighted points-based lottery starting from the highest down to the lowest points, the way this is currently set up, a particular magnet program would have to exhaust ALL their PHBAO applicants before a Sibling-nonPHBAO student could get in to join their other sibling. Meaning, families will become divided with little chance of keeping their kids together in the same magnet program.

I asked this administrator to please take this concern to her superiors and magnet coordinators, because inadvertently this points-based discrepancy will be splitting families apart. I suggested at a minimum giving siblings 4 points – equal to PHBAO points – so at least the playing field is level. She seemed receptive to my concerns and said she would bring it up at the next meeting. If you too are concerned about this, please talk with your magnet coordinators so they can discuss potential adjustments for future years, just as they were able to do with this year’s TWIN/MULTIPLE FIX.

As always, if you have no idea what I’m talking about and your head is spinning with question marks about all these points, let’s book a call to go over your magnet strategy and I’ll do my best to shoehorn you into my schedule right now.

That’s all I got for the moment. Hope you enjoyed the update.
-Tanya