Los Angeles Unified School District teachers voted overwhelmingly to boycott the first of four “optional” instructional days that were added to the LAUSD academic calendar this year without union negotiations.

The union representing teachers announced the results of the vote on Friday.

“The district chose to add these ‘accelerated days’ at a cost of approximately $122 million without consulting parents, teachers or other school workers,” United Teachers Los Angeles – which is involved in ongoing contract negotiations with the district.

“In response to this decision, 93% of UTLA members voted to boycott the “optional” first day of LAUSD. Instead of participating in this waste of taxpayer dollars, an overwhelming percentage of UTLA members voted to participate in a boycott and rally alongside community members on Wednesday, October 19, 2022, the optional first date. indicated.

The union also called the addition of elective days a “$122 million hit” that “prioritizes optics over student needs.”

In response, a LAUSD representative said Friday, “Los Angeles Unified is seeking to provide additional instruction to students identified as needing intensive intervention. It’s about accelerating student progress toward grade-level proficiency, social-emotional learning, and high school graduation, while providing teachers and other employees with the opportunity to earn a salary. additional.

The rep also added a “point of clarification” regarding the union’s $122 million figure, stating that “the $122 million budgeted includes $52 million to pay employees to attend the three optional professional development days held August 9, 10 and 11. The majority of educators participated in these optional, paid adult learning days.

The next optional days are scheduled to take place on October 19, December 7, March 15 and April 19.

Earlier this month, the UTLA filed an unfair labor practices lawsuit against the district regarding the optional days issue.

At the time, UTLA called the move an overstepping of district authority and a failure to include teachers in discussions about how to recoup lost learning time during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the district, contract negotiators met Thursday and will meet again just after Labor Day to continue discussions.

“We look forward to reaching a fair and timely agreement that will benefit both Los Angeles Unified students and educators, while continuing to work toward our goal of making Los Angeles Unified the nation’s first urban school district,” said the district representative.

The extra school days were announced in April. At the time, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said the extra days “will be designed to provide an in-depth level of additional academic support to our students who need it most – the students who have lost ground the most, the students in host families, students with English language limitations or one or more disabilities We must have the courage and compassion to provide quality extended instruction time to these students and professional development to our teachers.

On Friday, the union said the optional days “are intended to distract from the district’s refusal to support equitable education for all students by denying our children the supports and services proven to ensure student success.”

“By arbitrarily dispersing these days in the school calendar, real teaching and learning will be disrupted and dollars that were meant to be used for education will be wasted,” the union said.

In Friday’s statement, the union also said the district should spend funds allocated for elective days in another way.

“LAUSD must reallocate funds used on ‘Fast Track Days’ to programs, services and staff roles that have been proven to have a long-term positive impact on student learning and career outcomes,” said said the union.

“That means making sure every school site has a nurse on staff every day. Currently, 80% of LAUSD schools do not have a full-time nurse, and 15% of South Los Angeles schools have no allotted time for a nurse. »

The union also spoke of the need to “reduce class sizes and increase teacher salaries to ensure the long-term retention of quality educators,” as well as additional support for special education programs such as arts, music, ethnic studies, bilingual programs, tutoring, outdoor education and field trips.

Further, the union said: “The mental health needs of our students cannot be overlooked and more counsellors, psychologists and school social workers must be available at all school sites. Finally, the school district must seriously support housing, environmental, immigration, and COVID recovery needs in our communities.