The Long Beach Unified School District and the Teachers Association of Long Beach—the city’s largest employer and largest union—have been at the negotiating table several times over the last few months and are currently engaged in extended conversations around adding days to the school year for teachers, as well as raises. Bargaining resumes today between the two sides as they work to come to an agreement on a new contract.

Teachers led a well-attended rally at last week’s LBUSD Board of Education meeting, with a strong showing outside of and inside of the board room. There were also several speakers from the union’s membership who questioned the district’s desire to add four days onto the school year for teachers—these days would be dedicated to professional development, with four staff-only days dedicated to trainings and meetings.

That’s caused some rancor among teachers, many of whom have felt that district-led trainings are out of touch with current classroom teachers’ needs and realities. More than 50% of responding teachers in a recent TALB membership survey said that “district trainers” have been either “less than effective” (38.9%) or “not effective at all” (12.2%).

Another question asked respondents about the value of the district-led professional development sessions, with two-thirds of surveyed teachers responding “less than valuable” (45.5%) or “not valuable at all” (22.4%).

Teachers both at the board meeting and in responding to the survey have said if they’re on campus for additional student-free days, they’d prefer to see that time used for planning, grading or collaborating with other teachers and administrators at their schools.

TALB executive director Chris Callopy said his union’s membership feels like the district has been asking for more from them every year without doing much listening about what would help teachers in their day-to-day jobs.

“From our data it’s clear that our folks want more time to do grading and planning,” he said. “We can have a conversation around (professional development), but they really should be asking folks, ‘What do you feel like you need?’ There’s a lack of two-way communication about what would help teachers and their students.”

Two-thirds of teachers who responded to the TALB survey said they are “not willing” to accept the LBUSD proposal as currently defined.

The question of how that proposal was “currently defined” seemed to be a matter of some confusion at the board meeting. Several speakers made reference to the district offering a 2% raise in exchange for the additional four days of work, but the district sent a bargaining update to teachers during the board meeting to say that the offer is for an 8% raise.

“We’ve listened to the comments made by TALB this evening and we have provided clarifying comments to what has been shared in a bargaining update that’s dated today,” LBUSD Deputy Superintendent Tiffany Brown said.

The bargaining update says the district has made an on-schedule raise offer of 8% to TALB as well as a 2% one-time off-schedule raise.

The update also said the district has proposed the additional days “based on the needs of our students and staff,” and that they would “provide staff the opportunity for collaboration, review of student data, and/or site-based training.”

LBUSD spokesperson Chris Eftychiou declined further comment on the update.