Judge sees no reason to delay Los Angeles teachers strike





LOS ANGELES (AP) - A Los Angeles judge on Thursday found no reason to delay an expected teachers strike next week against the nation's second-largest school district over wages and class sizes.

Superior Court Judge Mary H. Strobel ruled on the issue of whether United Teachers Los Angeles had given legally proper notice of a work stoppage to the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The district, with 640,000 students, said in a statement after the ruling that it's willing to negotiate "around the clock" and urged UTLA to work with it to resolve contract issues and avoid a strike.

Talks were set to resume Friday. Schools would stay open during a possible strike. The district has hired hundreds of substitutes to replace teachers and others who could leave for picket lines.

The district has offered a 6 percent raise over the first two years of a three-year contract. The union wants a 6.5 percent hike that would take effect all at once and be retroactive to fiscal 2017. Health care fully paid by the district and a pension plan would be unchanged under both proposals.

The union also wants significantly smaller class sizes, which routinely top 30 students, and more nurses, librarians and counselors to "fully staff" the district's campuses in Los Angeles and all or parts of 31 smaller cities, plus several unincorporated areas.

The district has said the union's demands could bankrupt the school system, which is projecting a half-billion-dollar deficit this budget year and has billions obligated for pension payments and health coverage for retired teachers.

Union officials previously said its 35,000 members would walk off the job Thursday for the first time in three decades if a deal wasn't reached on higher pay and smaller class sizes.

They delayed the strike until Monday while awaiting the court ruling to avoid confusion and give teachers, parents and others time to prepare.

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