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New talks expected this weekend as O.C. teacher strike continues

April 24, 2010 |  8:09 am

Making their point

New negotiations are expected to occur Saturday after a two-day strike by Capistrano Unified School District teachers over pay and benefits failed to be resolved Friday.

Teachers vowed to continue the strike until their demands are met and said talks Friday didn't produce any breakthroughs.

Teachers are protesting the school board's decision to end negotiations and impose 10% pay cuts to help close a $34-million budget gap. The union wants the district to make the pay cuts temporary and to restore salaries, unpaid workdays and other benefits if "unforeseen funds" are received.

This is the latest dispute in a district beset by controversy in the last several years after the threatened closure of three elementary schools, two separate recalls of board members, and criticism of the decision to erect a $35-million administration building known derisively as the Taj Mahal.

More teachers joined the strike's second day Friday. Hundreds of teachers hoisted signs and chanted slogans, joined by students and parents.

About 200 teachers — 11% of the teachers — crossed picket lines to get to their rooms, down from 12% Thursday, said Julie Hatchel, district spokeswoman. Nearly 600 substitute teachers were hired to supervise classrooms.

Attendance in the 51,000-student district was down substantially Friday: Less than one-third of students attended classes, Hatchel said. High school attendance was 10%, down from 23% on Thursday; middle school attendance was 27%, down from 39%; and elementary school attendance was 45%, down from 48%.

--My-Thuan Tran

Photo: Striking Capistrano Valley High School teachers shout at one of the replacement teachers leaving the Mission Viejo campus. The teachers union wants the 10% pay cuts imposed by the Capistrano Unified School District to be made temporary. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)