Commentary: LAUSD board retreats from fiscal challenge again — and teachers union boss may be the big winner

Nearly a year ago, the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Directors voted to approve a new three-year agreement with United Teachers Los Angeles and seven other district bargaining units, extending union members’ ability to earn free lifetime health, dental, and vision care for themselves, their spouses, and their dependents. Long acknowledged as one of the primary causes of the district’s persistent budget woes, these incredibly generous benefits were approved in a divided vote, 4-2, with board president Mónica García voting in favor but acknowledging the district could not afford the agreement and vowing to get tougher in future negotiations. Board member Nick Melvoin voted against the agreement and issued dire warnings about continuing to add to the district’s staggering $15 billion unfunded liability.

Fast-forward 11 months, and the board members, again, voted on an expensive contract that locks in future liabilities that the district can’t afford. The approved agreement between the district and the teachers union that ended the recent six-day strike adds to the payroll new teachers, nurses, counselors, and community schools coordinators, all of whom will be eligible to qualify for the lifetime benefits approved last February.

An ominous letter from the Los Angeles Country Office of Education delivered just prior to Tuesday’s board meeting confirmed what nearly everyone knew already: the agreement put LAUSD at risk for state takeover without cuts elsewhere even though the district is already slashing funds earmarked for low-income, English learner and foster youth to pay for new salaries. Still, the agreement passed unanimously with nearly no discussion. Click here to read more: