Tucson Unified, Amphitheater, Tanque Verde, Flowing Wells and Catalina Foothills school districts announced they would continue school closures into at least Tuesday, as educators continue the walkouts that have shut down the vast majority of Arizona public schools since Thursday.
The Sunnyside Unified School District will keep schools closed through the remainder of the week due to student safety concerns. Food services will also be canceled Tuesday through Friday.
“It is not viable to keep our schools operating without adequate staffing,” the district said.
In a statement, TUSD said the decision was made based on the Arizona Educators United call for a continued walkout and reported teacher absences for that day.
At most TUSD schools, employees who want to work are permitted report to their campuses.
The exception is Warren Elementary School, which will be shut down completely, and not even offering free and reduced price breakfast and lunch. Employees there will not be able to use leave days and will be on unpaid furloughs.
Arizona mandates schools provide a certain number of instructional minutes, and after three days of closures, Warren no longer has enough instructional minutes to support another day of the walkout, the district said in a statement.
“If the walkout continues long-term, more schools may be in this situation with instructional minutes,” the statement read.
TUSD joins a growing number of school districts that have announced they will remain closed Tuesday, or until the statewide walkout ends, and teachers decided to come back to work, whenever that happens.
A high number of employees calling out for Tuesday prompted the Amphitheater School District to extend closures into Tuesday and is monitoring the situation on a daily basis. Amphi schools will continue to provide “Grab & Go” breakfast and lunch meals for students.
Tanque Verde announced Tuesday’s closure on Monday afternoon, adding that closures will continue until further notice.
“We are meeting daily with our administrative team to assess whether we will have appropriate staffing available to reopen our schools,” a Tanque Verde news release said.
Catalina Foothills Unified School District Superintendent Mary Kamerzell said the district will close Tuesday, and stay closed until the walkouts end. That could mean extending the school year, she noted.
“Our goal is to meet the required number of instructional hours required by Arizona law while minimizing the disruptions to our student calendar. Until we know how long this walkout lasts, we won’t know exactly what changes will need to be made,” she wrote in a statement to parents.
The continued closures come as Arizona lawmakers are prepared to introduce a budget package that will reportedly include a 9 percent raise for teachers and another 100 million in district and charter additional assistance. Gov. Doug Ducey announced Friday that he had reached a deal with legislative Republicans to pass the package.
And it comes as a group spearheaded by former Democratic lawmaker David Lujan announced it would be collecting signatures to put a citizens’ initiative that would increase income taxes on individuals earning more than $250,000 per year, which would bring in an estimated $620 million of new revenue to Arizona’s education system.
And while some local schools have announced that they will continue closures until the strike ends, others are making the decision to close on a day-by-day basis.
Marana, Sahuarita, Sunnyside and Vail are all expected to announce their plans for Tuesday later today.