LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles teachers walked off the job Monday morning in their first strike in 30 years, leaving half a million students and their families with difficult choices.

Schools will be open but it’s unknown how many students will head to classes in the nation’s second-largest school system. Some will be joining their teachers on the picket line.

For those who go to school, the day is unlikely to follow routines as volunteers, an estimated 400 substitutes and 2,000 staffers from central and regional offices fill in for 31,000 teachers, nurses, librarians and counselors. At 10 schools, nonteaching employees will take part in a sympathy strike, which will create additional headaches as administrators struggle to manage such tasks as preparing and serving meals.

During the last teachers’ strike in 1989, which lasted about nine days, roughly half of the district students went to school.

The plan at many schools for this strike is to gather students into large groups, so they can be supervised by fewer adults. It’s not clear how much learning will be going on outside of the real-time civics lessons happening on the streets.

At a 7:30 a.m. news conference, local union leaders will be joined by Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, and Lily Eskelsen Garcia, who heads the National Education Assn.

At 10:30 a.m., the union has scheduled a rally at Grand Park, across from City Hall, followed by a march to school district headquarters, just west of downtown.

A strike became inevitable when negotiations broke off late Friday afternoon between the L.A. Unified School District and United Teachers Los Angeles. District officials have sweetened their previous offer based on improved funding for all school districts in the state budget proposal unveiled last week by Gov. Gavin Newsom. The district also received a boost from Los Angeles County supervisors, who could vote Tuesday on a plan to provide L.A. Unified up to $10 million for nursing and mental-health services.

Based on these developments, the latest district offer includes a full-time nurse for every elementary school. At present, the district pays for one day of nursing per week, although many schools use discretionary funds to provide additional days.

The district says its current offer adds about $130 million and 1,200 positions to previous proposals. Besides full-time nursing, the offer presented Friday would lower class sizes by about two students at middle schools. It built on a proposal from earlier that week, in which the district said it would drop the maximum class sizes in grades four to six from 36 to 35 and in high school from 42 to about 39. (The average classes already are smaller.)

Schools with the greatest needs would see larger class-size reductions — of about four students per class. Also, every secondary school would get a librarian, which some lack now. And high schools would get an extra academic counselor.

The increased staffing, however, would be guaranteed only for one year. District officials said this was necessary because the funds are coming out of a one-time reserve. But for teachers union President Alex Caputo-Pearl, the temporary nature of the increased staffing made the proposal a nonstarter.

The two sides are not that far apart on salary. L.A. Unified is offering 6 percent spread out over the first two years of a three-year deal. The union wants 6.5 percent all at once, retroactive a year earlier.

The two sides are so far behind in negotiations that even if they reached a new three-year deal this week, it would be in effect for only 18 months. The previous contract expired in June 2017.

No talks were expected Monday as the union presided over the start of its strike and district officials dealt with their own logistics, although L.A. schools Supt. Austin Beutner has said his negotiation team would be available around the clock.


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