Marathon negotiations spark hope of breakthrough in Los Angeles teacher strike

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More than 30,000 teachers on strike at Los Angeles hope that they will be back in the classroom soon as marathon negotiations continue in camera during the holiday weekend to break the contractual stalemate.

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"I hope that they will understand this quickly – it's exhausting," Melissa Berlant, an English sixth-grade teacher, told ABC News.

On Monday, Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday school holidays will mark the eighth day since teachers from the nation's second largest school district came out of classrooms and formed picket lines after breaking a contract with officials at the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Representatives of the United Teachers of Los Angeles and LAUSD returned to the negotiating table on Friday and continued their negotiations on Sunday with marathons led by Mayor Eric Garcetti's office, a potential presidential candidate for the United States for 2020.

PHOTO: People gather in the downtown streets in the pouring rain during the United Teachers strike in Los Angeles on January 14, 2019 in Los Angeles.Barbara Davidson / Getty Images

People gather in the downtown streets in the pouring rain during the United Teachers strike in Los Angeles on January 14, 2019 in Los Angeles.

It is unclear what progress, if any, has been made at the bargaining table as both parties have agreed to keep the negotiations confidential.

California Senator Kamala Harris, who would also have aspirations for the presidency of 2020, tweeted Sunday to support teachers.

"Students deserve nurses who can treat them when they are sick and they deserve counselors," she tweeted. "They deserve to have librarians on a daily basis, able to open new worlds, and they all deserve to be paid fairly, with our incredible teachers."

Striking educators are asking for a 6.5% salary increase, smaller class sizes and the district is adding about 1,200 support positions, including nurses, librarians and counselors.

"I have more than 1,500 students on my workload," Yulya Ippolitova, 39, a psychologist at George K. Porter Middle School, told ABC News. "The ratio recommended by the National Association of School Psychologists is 1 psychologist per 750 students.Many of us are overwhelmed and working beyond to serve vulnerable student populations without the support of the district."

PHOTO: Professor Nkechi Apakama, as well as teachers and supporters of the Los Angeles Unified School District, meeting at the Los Angeles Unified School District Headquarters on January 14, 2019.Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times via Polaris

Teacher Nkechi Apakama, as well as the teachers and supporters of the Unified School District of Los Angeles, meet at the Los Angeles Unified School District headquarters on January 14, 2019.

The school district director, Austin Beutner, said last week that the district did not have the money to meet all the union's demands.

But Beutner expressed optimism that both sides can reach a compromise and break the stalemate now that negotiations have been restarted.

"Too many students miss out on the education they should be receiving," Beutner said Friday. "We must solve this problem now and bring our educators and all our students back to the classroom."

Beutner said that during the first week of the strike, the district had lost about $ 125 million in tax revenue paid by the state, due to student attendance.

PHOTO: A children 's garden teacher from The Accelerated Schools, a community of public charter schools in South Los Angeles, joins other teachers in picketing in front of the school. school on the second day of the teachers' strike in Los Angeles, January 15, 2019.Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Polaris

A kindergarten teacher from The Accelerated Schools, a community of public charter schools in South Los Angeles, joins other teachers to picket the school in front of the school. second day of the teachers' strike in Los Angeles, January 15, 2019.

Schools remained open in the district Alternate alternates, but only about a third of the nearly 600,000 students in the district attend classes. Many students and their parents joined the teachers on picket lines.

UTLA President, Alex Caputo-Pearl, described the strike as "fighting for the soul of public education" in Los Angeles.

The union has been trying to get a new contract for two years without success. Caputo-Pearl said the union's objection to the proliferation of charter schools in the district was another important friction point in the negotiations.

About 1 in 5 public school students in Los Angeles attend a charter, most school districts in the country. Charter schools are privately run and most are non-union.

"If we allow this movement to win, our schools will be privatized, our students will have less equity and less access, and our jobs and our health care will be attacked," said Caputo-Pearl at Friday's rally.