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Talks resume in effort to end strike by LA teachers

Published
Teachers, parents and students picket under the rain in downtown Los Angeles Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. A new round of contract negotiations began between Los Angeles school district officials and a teachers union as thousands of educators picketed in the rain. The announcement that the two sides were sitting down Thursday for the first time in nearly a week didn't indicate whether any new contract offers would be on the table. Union officials tempered expectations, saying a quick deal was unlikely. District officials have said teacher demands could bankrupt the school system. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A new round of contract negotiations started Thursday between Los Angeles school district officials and a teachers union as thousands of educators picketed in the rain.

The announcement that the two sides would sit down for the first time in nearly a week didn't indicate whether any new contract offers would be on the table.

Union officials tempered expectations.

"After 21 months of negotiations I think it would be an unrealistic expectation to say that this is going to be over after today because there are hard issues to work through," said Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of United Teachers Los Angeles.

Talks broke off Friday, sending tens of thousands of teachers onto the street. Thursday was the fourth day of the walkout.

Mayor Eric Garcetti had urged both sides to resume talks on Thursday at City Hall. The mayor does not have authority over the Los Angeles Unified School District but he has sought to help both sides reach an agreement.

Clashes over pay, class sizes and support-staff levels in the district with 640,000 students led to its first strike in 30 years and prompted the staffing of classrooms with substitute teachers and administrators.

Parents and children have joined the protests despite heavy rain that has drenched the city. Overall attendance fell to 83,900 students on Thursday.

With state funding dependent on attendance, student absences cost the district about $97 million over four days, the district said. At the same time, it doesn't have to spend about $10 million a day on teacher pay.

The union representing principals urged LA Unified to close schools until the strike is over. If the district can't close the campuses, Associated Administrators of Los Angeles asked for additional resources for principals who have helped keep schools running while teachers walk picket lines.

All 1,240 K-12 schools in the district were open — a departure from successful strikes in other states that emboldened the LA union to act.

The union rejected the district's latest offer to hire nearly 1,200 teachers, counselors, nurses and librarians and to reduce class sizes by two students. It also included a previously proposed 6 percent raise over the first two years of a three-year contract. The union wants a 6.5 percent hike at the start of a two-year contract.

District officials have said teacher demands could bankrupt the school system. Superintendent Austin Beutner has urged the teachers to join him in pushing for more funding from the state, which provides 90 percent of the district's money.

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AP reporter John Antczak contributed to this report.

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Follow Weber at https://twitter.com/WeberCM

Spanish teacher at Hamilton High School, Jose Ramos, left, joins teachers during a strike in front of Hamilton High School in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. Los Angeles school administrators urged the union to resume bargaining as tens of thousands of teachers planned to walk picket lines for a third day Wednesday, after being joined on strike for the first time by some of their counterparts from independent charter schools. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Parents, teachers and students carry signs and picket in front of Hamilton High School, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019, in Los Angeles during a citywide teacher strike. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Teachers and students carry signs and picket in front of Hamilton High School, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019, in Los Angeles, during a citywide teacher strike. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz walk with teachers, parents and students as they  picket in front of Hamilton High School, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019, in Los Angeles, during a citywide teacher strike. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Teachers and students rally in the steps in front of Hamilton High School, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019, in Los Angeles, during a citywide teacher strike. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Elementary students, from right, Sawyer Mack is joined by his sisters, Capri and Kaya in support of a teachers strike in front of Hamilton High School  in Los Angeles on Wed. Jan. 16, 2019. Los Angeles school administrators urged the union to resume bargaining as tens of thousands of teachers planned to walk picket lines for a third day Wednesday, after being joined on strike for the first time by some of their counterparts from independent charter schools. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Actor, musician and activist, Steven Van Zandt supports striking teachers on the picket in front of Hamilton High School in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. School administrators urged the union to resume bargaining as tens of thousands of teachers planned to walk picket lines for a third day Wednesday. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Actor, musician and activist, Steven Van Zandt, center, supports striking teachers on the picket in front of Hamilton High School in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. School administrators urged the union to resume bargaining as tens of thousands of teachers planned to walk picket lines for a third day Wednesday. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Los Angeles Unified School District educators picket over the Harbor Freeway downtown Los Angeles Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. A new round of contract negotiations began between Los Angeles school district officials and a teachers union as thousands of educators picketed in the rain. The announcement that the two sides were sitting down Thursday for the first time in nearly a week didn't indicate whether any new contract offers would be on the table. Union officials tempered expectations, saying a quick deal was unlikely. District officials have said teacher demands could bankrupt the school system.  (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Teachers, parents and children picket despite heavy rain drenching downtown Los Angeles Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. A new round of contract negotiations began between Los Angeles school district officials and a teachers union as thousands of educators picketed in the rain. The announcement that the two sides were sitting down Thursday for the first time in nearly a week didn't indicate whether any new contract offers would be on the table. Union officials tempered expectations, saying a quick deal was unlikely. District officials have said teacher demands could bankrupt the school system.  (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Teachers and students rally in the steps in front of Hamilton High School, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019, in Los Angeles, during a citywide teacher strike. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Teachers and students rally in the steps in front of Hamilton High School, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019, in Los Angeles, during a citywide teacher strike. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Teachers, parents and children picket despite heavy rain drenching downtown Los Angeles Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. A new round of contract negotiations began between Los Angeles school district officials and a teachers union as thousands of educators picketed in the rain. The announcement that the two sides were sitting down Thursday for the first time in nearly a week didn't indicate whether any new contract offers would be on the table. Union officials tempered expectations, saying a quick deal was unlikely. District officials have said teacher demands could bankrupt the school system.  (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Teachers, parents and children picket despite heavy rain drenching downtown Los Angeles Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. A new round of contract negotiations began between Los Angeles school district officials and a teachers union as thousands of educators picketed in the rain. The announcement that the two sides were sitting down Thursday for the first time in nearly a week didn't indicate whether any new contract offers would be on the table. Union officials tempered expectations, saying a quick deal was unlikely. District officials have said teacher demands could bankrupt the school system. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Actor, musician and activist, Steven Van Zandt, center, supports striking teachers on the picket in front of Hamilton High School in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. School administrators urged the union to resume bargaining as tens of thousands of teachers planned to walk picket lines for a third day Wednesday. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Actor, musician and activist, Steven Van Zandt, center, supports striking teachers on the picket in front of Hamilton High School in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. School administrators urged the union to resume bargaining as tens of thousands of teachers planned to walk picket lines for a third day Wednesday. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Teachers, parents and students picket under the rain in downtown Los Angeles Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. A new round of contract negotiations began between Los Angeles school district officials and a teachers union as thousands of educators picketed in the rain. The announcement that the two sides were sitting down Thursday for the first time in nearly a week didn't indicate whether any new contract offers would be on the table. Union officials tempered expectations, saying a quick deal was unlikely. District officials have said teacher demands could bankrupt the school system. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Teachers, parents and students picket under the rain in downtown Los Angeles Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. A new round of contract negotiations began between Los Angeles school district officials and a teachers union as thousands of educators picketed in the rain. The announcement that the two sides were sitting down Thursday for the first time in nearly a week didn't indicate whether any new contract offers would be on the table. Union officials tempered expectations, saying a quick deal was unlikely. District officials have said teacher demands could bankrupt the school system. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Teachers and students carry signs and picket in front of Hamilton High School, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019, in Los Angeles, during a citywide teacher strike. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Teachers and students carry signs and picket in front of Hamilton High School, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019, in Los Angeles, during a citywide teacher strike. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Elementary students, from right, Sawyer Mack is joined by his sisters, Capri and Kaya in support of a teachers strike in front of Hamilton High School  in Los Angeles on Wed. Jan. 16, 2019. Los Angeles school administrators urged the union to resume bargaining as tens of thousands of teachers planned to walk picket lines for a third day Wednesday, after being joined on strike for the first time by some of their counterparts from independent charter schools. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Elementary students, from right, Sawyer Mack is joined by his sisters, Capri and Kaya in support of a teachers strike in front of Hamilton High School in Los Angeles on Wed. Jan. 16, 2019. Los Angeles school administrators urged the union to resume bargaining as tens of thousands of teachers planned to walk picket lines for a third day Wednesday, after being joined on strike for the first time by some of their counterparts from independent charter schools. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Spanish teacher at Hamilton High School, Jose Ramos, left, joins teachers during a strike in front of Hamilton High School in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. Los Angeles school administrators urged the union to resume bargaining as tens of thousands of teachers planned to walk picket lines for a third day Wednesday, after being joined on strike for the first time by some of their counterparts from independent charter schools. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Spanish teacher at Hamilton High School, Jose Ramos, left, joins teachers during a strike in front of Hamilton High School in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. Los Angeles school administrators urged the union to resume bargaining as tens of thousands of teachers planned to walk picket lines for a third day Wednesday, after being joined on strike for the first time by some of their counterparts from independent charter schools. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Parents, teachers and students carry signs and picket in front of Hamilton High School, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019, in Los Angeles during a citywide teacher strike. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Parents, teachers and students carry signs and picket in front of Hamilton High School, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019, in Los Angeles during a citywide teacher strike. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Los Angeles Unified School District educators picket over the Harbor Freeway downtown Los Angeles Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. A new round of contract negotiations began between Los Angeles school district officials and a teachers union as thousands of educators picketed in the rain. The announcement that the two sides were sitting down Thursday for the first time in nearly a week didn't indicate whether any new contract offers would be on the table. Union officials tempered expectations, saying a quick deal was unlikely. District officials have said teacher demands could bankrupt the school system.  (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Los Angeles Unified School District educators picket over the Harbor Freeway downtown Los Angeles Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. A new round of contract negotiations began between Los Angeles school district officials and a teachers union as thousands of educators picketed in the rain. The announcement that the two sides were sitting down Thursday for the first time in nearly a week didn't indicate whether any new contract offers would be on the table. Union officials tempered expectations, saying a quick deal was unlikely. District officials have said teacher demands could bankrupt the school system. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz walk with teachers, parents and students as they  picket in front of Hamilton High School, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019, in Los Angeles, during a citywide teacher strike. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz walk with teachers, parents and students as they picket in front of Hamilton High School, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019, in Los Angeles, during a citywide teacher strike. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Actor, musician and activist, Steven Van Zandt supports striking teachers on the picket in front of Hamilton High School in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. School administrators urged the union to resume bargaining as tens of thousands of teachers planned to walk picket lines for a third day Wednesday. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Actor, musician and activist, Steven Van Zandt supports striking teachers on the picket in front of Hamilton High School in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. School administrators urged the union to resume bargaining as tens of thousands of teachers planned to walk picket lines for a third day Wednesday. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)