Teachers, Parents Picket Outside LA Schools

Teachers and parents conducted informational pickets at Los Angeles schools Thursday to demand cleaner buildings and improved staffing.

Some teachers are wasting valuable time cleaning classrooms due to staffing shortages, teacher union leaders said outside Carver Middle School. District officials have said the demands -- more teachers, money and cleaning staff members -- are not in the Los Angeles Unified School District's budget.

Parents and students at Carver Middle School described restroom conditions as disgusting. Language Arts teacher Jose Buenabad said he regularly cleans classrooms.

"We don't mind, we do it at home, we do it everywhere," said Buenobad. "But we were contracted to teach. We signed a contract to be professionals. They're not treating us like professionals."

Picketers marched in front of the school and handed out information to parents.

The district released the following statement Thursday: "LAUSD has been in a negative financial situation for several years. We are in recovery mode from the Great Recession and at the same time, responding to declining enrollment, among other factors. We are working to develop a budget that treats employees equitably."

The pickets are part of an ongoing contract dispute involving the union and district. Those negotiations are expected to resume Thursday afternoon.

The union supports an 8-percent pay raise for teachers. UTLA  President Alex Caputo-Pearl said that without such an increase, teachers will not want  to join or remain with the LAUSD.

The district's most recent offer to the union was for a 5 percent pay  raise, retroactive to July 1, 2014. Superintendent Ramon Cortines said the  offer is comparable to what other districts are offering. He also said starting  salaries for teachers would jump to $50,000 a year, while another $13 million  would be dedicated to reducing class sizes, doubling the district's budget for  the effort.

NBC4's Jonathan Lloyd contributed to this report.

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