LOS ANGELES (FOX 11) - Representatives of the union for striking Los Angeles teachers and officials with the Los Angeles Unified School District spent more than 11 hours at the bargaining table on Saturday and have agreed to meet again on Sunday at Los Angeles City Hall, according to a statement for Mayor Eric Garcetti's office.
The session is scheduled for 11 a.m., marking the fourth straight day of renewed talks since the teachers went on strike as of Monday, Jan. 14. with the mayor's office acting as mediator. Saturday's talks also began at 11 a.m. and continued throughout the day, ending at 10:28 p.m., the mayor's statement
said, again calling the talks "productive," as they have done after each session.
"We're going to be here late," LAUSD chief financial officer Scott Price told the LA Daily News. And the paper asked former LAUSD school board president Steve Zimmer if there could be an agreement this weekend. "Stranger things have happened," he said.
LAUSD officials have repeatedly called for an end to the now seven-day strike that has crippled classroom attendance and cost the district millions of dollars in state funding.
"The activism here cannot end. It must not end," LAUSD board president Monica Garcia said. "The strike, however, it does need to end. We need our teachers and our children back at school doing the work that they need to do."
Superintendent Austin Beutner echoed that call, stressing the need for the district and union to come to an agreement over the weekend so schools can reopen.
"We need our educators and our students back in school on Tuesday morning," Beutner said. "So the onus is us. The onus is on us as leaders to do what we have to do in the next 48, 72 hours to make sure schools are open and educators and students are back in school on Tuesday."
The mayor does not have authority over the Los Angeles Unified School District but has sought to help both sides reach an agreement.
Union President Alex Caputo-Pearl earlier tempered expectations for an immediate resolution, noting that bargaining had gone on for 21 months before the strike and key differences remained.
Clashes over pay, class sizes and support-staff levels in the district with 640,000 students led to its first strike in 30 years and prompted the staffing of classrooms with substitute teachers and administrators.
Parents and children have joined the protests despite heavy rain that drenched the city. Overall attendance fell to 83,900 students on Thursday.
With state funding dependent on attendance, student absences cost the district about $97 million over four days, the district said. At the same time, it doesn't have to spend about $10 million a day on teacher pay.
The union representing principals urged LA Unified to close schools until the strike is over. If the district can't close the campuses, Associated Administrators of Los Angeles asked for additional resources for principals who have helped keep schools running while teachers walk picket lines.
In response, Superintendent Austin Beutner acknowledged the administrators' sacrifices but said LAUSD schools must remain open to provide a safe place for students.
All 1,240 K-12 schools in the district were open - a departure from successful strikes in other states that emboldened the LA union to act.
The union rejected the district's latest offer to hire nearly 1,200 teachers, counselors, nurses and librarians and to reduce class sizes by two students. It also included a previously proposed 6 percent raise over the first two years of a three-year contract. The union wants a 6.5 percent hike at the start of a two-year contract.
District officials have said teacher demands could bankrupt the school system. Beutner has urged the teachers to join him in pushing for more funding from the state, which provides 90 percent of the district's money.
The Associated Press and CNS contributed to this report.