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TUSD, Amphi, Marana, Sunnyside: Most Tucson-area districts to close for #RedForEd teacher walkout

Flowing Wells, Catalina Foothills, Sierra Vista, Vail & Sahuarita also set to not hold classes

Tucson Unified School District officials announced Tuesday that the district will not hold classes Thursday, the day of the planned "#RedForEd" teacher walkout. Sunnyside and Amphitheater district officials said their schools will be closed Thursday and Friday. Flowing Wells, Marana, Catalina Foothills, Vail and Sahuarita school districts and BASIS charter schools have also said they will close for the strike by educators.

TUSD will determine Wednesday if the district's schools will be closed Friday and beyond if the walkouts continue next week.

TUSD — the largest district in the area — will serve breakfast and lunch to students on Thursday, but classes will not be held, Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo said.

About 2,200 of TUSD's 3,200 teachers have already told the district they won't be working on Thursday, with about 1,300 calling off work for Friday, Trujillo said Tuesday morning.

Sunnyside and Flowing Wells schools will be closed both Thursday and Friday. SUSD cafeterias will be open for students accompanied by their parents, officials said, while Flowing Wells students of all grades can eat breakfast and lunch at any district elementary school, officials said Tuesday.

Amphi schools will also be closed both days. "The numbers are clear," said Superintendent Todd Jaeger, telling parents that so many district employees had conveyed their intentions to walk out that the district would "not have adequate staff present." Amphi kitchens will provide "Grab & Go" breakfast and lunch meals for students on those days, he said.

All Vail schools will also be closed Thursday and Friday, officials said Tuesday afternoon. All BASIS schools across the state will be closed Thursday, but the charter intends to hold classes on Friday, representatives said.

Thousands of teachers at Tucson schools are expected to join in the walkout, which was approved by 78 percent of educators casting votes in a non-binding statewide referendum on the strike held last week by the Arizona Education Association. Teachers, like other public employees, are not allowed to strike under Arizona law, but a large number of educators are prepared to stay away from their jobs to press the Legislature to substantially increase education funding. Supporters say that the state has cut funds for schools by more than $1 billion over the past decade.

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Rather than striking against their employers — the separately governed school districts — teachers are protesting to push the state Legislature to increase overall funding for education, including teacher pay. While each district sets its own budget, the state ultimately controls the purse strings for nearly all school spending in Arizona, which ranks at or near the bottom among all states in nearly every measure of education funding.

"At this point we are unable to secure the level of supervision necessary to ensure student and staff safety on Thursday," TUSD officials said. In TUSD, schools will be "open to employees who wish to work even though students will not be present." Employees of other districts, including Sunnyside, will also be allowed to work a planning day if they don't wish to join the walkouts.

Catalina Foothills schools will be closed while the walkout lasts, officials said. That district will add days at the end of the school year to make up for lost classroom days, Superintendent Mary Kamerzell said.

In Vail, "a significant number of teachers and support staff have indicated that they intend to be absent this Thursday and Friday," Superintendent Calvin Baker said. "In collaboration with school leaders, we determined that all schools will be closed as we cannot guarantee that we will have adequate supervision to ensure student safety and provide meaningful learning opportunities."

Sahuarita schools will be closed Thursday and Friday, district officials said.

Marana Unified School District will close all schools on Thursday, with plans for Friday and beyond unclear if the walkout continues. The district said it will provide daily updates, but that with a majority of teachers and staff planning to participate in the walkout, that it would be impossible to hold classes on Thursday.

Other Southern Arizona districts will also close schools Thursday. Sierra Vista Unified Schools will close schools beginning Thursday, for the duration of the walkout, officials said. Elementary school cafeterias will be open for breakfast and lunch to all students in the district.

Other area districts plan to keep schools open if possible.

Tanque Verde schools will stay open if enough teachers and staff are working, but all district schools will be closed if holding classes is impractical.

Nogales Unified School District officials said that if too few teachers and staff report for work, the entire school district will close rather than determining classes on a school-by-school basis.

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