Los Angeles — A Los Angeles teachers union leader hinted of a possible resumption of contract bargaining Wednesday asin the second largest U.S. school district walked picket lines outside hundreds of schools for a third day.
"We'll have more information for you later in the day about the bargaining table and when we're getting back to that bargaining table," United Teachers Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl told teachers rallying in the rain outside a high school.
Caputo-Pearl said the union had "engaged" Mayor Eric Garcetti to help in the dispute that prompted administrators to staff classroom with substitute teachers, but he provided no further details. The mayor does not have authority over the school district but has been involved in seeking a resolution of the contract dispute.
Los Angeles Unified School District administrators have urged the union to resume bargaining.
"We need our educators back in our classrooms helping inspire our students," Superintendent Austin Beutner said Tuesday.
Teachers are pressing for higher pay, smaller class sizes and more support staff that school officials say could bankrupt the nation's second-largest system. Teachers earn between $44,000 and $86,000 annually depending on their education and experience. The district says the average salary is $75,000.
During the strike, attendance at the more than 1,000 schools within the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has dropped precipitously. Just a third of the more than 600,000 students served by LAUSD showed up for class on the strike's first day, costing the district $25 million, according to Beutner, CBS Los Angeles reported. On the second day, the number of students who didn't show up increased.
The big question is what happens if the strike lasts even longer, CBS News' Tony Dokoupil reported.
Students who are showing up to school are being grouped into classes of multiple grades and corralled into auditoriums and gyms to mostly play games, or into lecture halls for general education lessons under the supervision of credentialed administrators and substitute teachers.
Parents who sent their kids to school wondered how much teaching was happening as students were herded into large groups. David Biener said his son and daughter completed worksheets in math and history while sitting on the gym floor at their middle school.
"It's not an ideal situation, obviously, but there was some learning going on," he said. "It wasn't a free for all."