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LAUSD Approves Deal To Move Extra Learning Days, With Unions Divided

A transitional kindergartener at Harding Elementary in Sylmar plays with blocks as Kelly Gonez, president of the L.A. Unified school board, looks on. The student has been given her own set of toys; shared toys, materials and supplies are not allowed in L.A. Unified School District classrooms under reopening guidelines for hybrid instruction.
A transitional kindergartener at Harding Elementary in Sylmar plays with blocks as Kelly Gonez, president of the L.A. Unified school board, looks on.
(Kyle Stokes
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Los Angeles Unified School District students will have a normal day of school next Wednesday. It was supposed to be an optional, extra day of class to help students catch up. But school board members voted 6-0 on Tuesday to shuffle the district’s calendar and concentrate those days during upcoming breaks.

Background: In April, the district approved a calendar for the 2022-23 school year that included an extra week's worth of optional class time. The idea behind the plan was to give extra help to students who were struggling with school. District administrators expected at the time — correctly — that state testing would show a drop in district scores this fall, a consequence of two years of interrupted, pandemic-era learning.

The four “acceleration days” were designed as optional, which allowed administrators to avoid negotiations for a longer school year with the teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles. UTLA took issue with that approach, threatening a boycott of the first acceleration day.

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The new plan represents a compromise between UTLA and LAUSD leaders: The district will still hold the acceleration days, but on the first two days of both winter break and spring break, not on Wednesdays throughout the course of the year.

The compromise between LAUSD and the teachers, however, did not receive an endorsement from the district's second largest union, SEIU Local 99, which represents many non-teaching employees in the school system. Local 99 objected, saying it supported the original calendar and resented the last-minute change to their work schedules.

Political dynamics: School board president Kelly Gonez acknowledged that SEIU feels like a second-class citizen, and that its concerns often take a back seat to those of the larger UTLA.

Gonez has SEIU's support in her ongoing reelection campaign, but she voted for the compromise because, she said, despite the fact that she shares its concerns about feeling spurned here, the district simply was not ready to pull off an acceleration day next Wednesday.

What's next: In a statement last week, Local 99 indicated that, in an internal survey, nearly 50% of members indicated they would not be available to work during the winter and spring break acceleration days because of previous commitments.