TUSD will vote whether to shut down entire district

Updated: Apr. 30, 2018 at 5:50 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Tucson Unified School District Governing Board will vote Tuesday, May 1 whether to close all district schools until after the teacher's walkout has ended.

TUSD officials are still sorting out the details but during the regular evening session will determine if it's in the district's best financial interest to do so.

It's a decision most districts will likely face as the walkout wears on.

TUSD has already decided there will be no classes on Tuesday, May 1. One school, Warren Elementary has already shuttered its doors and according to TUSD Governing Board member Adelita Grijalva, more will likely do the same this week regardless of its decision.

"Right now we plan for a number of days in our school calendar," Grijalva said. "If we have to go past that school calendar, we have to pay for that time for everyone to come in."

Students are required to have an established number of hours depending on grade and curriculum. If they don't meet that time, they can't graduate.

If the walkout goes on and the students don't meet the requirements, the district has several options.

It may extend the school day, work weekends, eliminate some teacher planning days or even extend the school year. But many of those options come with a cost.

"If we have to extend the school year, the costs have to come from somewhere," Grijalva said.

Which is why closing the schools as a cost cutting measure may be attractive.

Yet Grijalva will advocate against it. Instead she would like to see select schools around the district remain open to provide services to parents and food to children.

The meals programs come from federal funds, not local.

Some teachers who are not in the classroom say they will support the walkout and the decision of the districts.

"We would much rather be in our classrooms," said Sunnyside Teacher Caroline Greene. "We're waiting for the legislators, both Republican and Democrat, to come together and work this out."

While she said she would favor Sunnyside closing for the week, which it has already announced, she hoped it would not be through job furloughs.

Grijalva said she has asked for numbers, such as how much it costs TUSD each day to keep the schools open and what the savings would be to close them, from district offices.

She said she would come to the governing board meeting with those numbers before casting her vote.

She said the board voted 5-0, unanimously, to support the #RedforEd walk out.

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