The L.A. teacher strike may be over, but observers warn there’s no ‘clear path forward’ for how the school district can afford its new contract

The L.A. Unified school board has approved a contractwith its teachers union that officials admit they can’t fully afford, calling the deal’s sustainability into question as the district receives repeated warnings from the county that it’s in severe financial straits.

To shoulder about $840 million in added costs through 2021, district officials say they’re largely relying on more state funding and a 2020 California tax referendum — neither of which are guaranteed. District board members could also float a parcel tax, though it’s been unpopular in the past. Short-term fixes so far include cuts to the central office and the reassignment of some funds within the budget, a spokeswoman said by email.

The contract compounds L.A. Unified’s financial woes, which include $15.2 billion in unfunded liabilities for post-employment benefits such as health care, about $500 million in annual deficit spending and millions in funding losses due to declining student enrollment. The new deal, in fact, could drive up this year’s deficit by about $187 million, according to a recent district projection. The agreement tripled L.A. Unified’s previous offer — from $130 million to $403 million over three years  — to lower class sizes and hire more support staff, such as nurses. Click here to read more: