Charter school enrollment shows more competition to educate kids - Tucson News Now

Charter school enrollment shows more competition to educate kids

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

BASIS Tucson might be small with about 700 students, but those students have big goals.

"I'm going to be a surgeon," junior Marissa Rodriguez said.

"Probably, I'd like to get into engineering," sophomore Grant Emmendorfer said.

Both Emmendorfer and Rodriguez partly credit the school's small size for their ability to learn.

"Everybody knows each other," Rodriguez said.  "My classmates are like siblings and we all talk to each other."

"So, it's a really good learning environment because everybody knows everybody here," Emmendorfer said.

"They go and ask the faculty questions after class," Head of School Julia Toews said.  "And they take that with them to a large university." 

She watches success at BASIS Tucson attract more students.  A larger campus will open on Tucson's north side next school year.  Another campus will also open in the Phoenix area and a new one will open in D.C.

"It's going to be a great new facility and our kids are really excited about it," Toews said.

Demand at BASIS increases while charters nationwide also see higher enrollment, which surpassed two million this year, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.  The alliance reported that this year marks the largest single-year increase ever recorded in terms of the number of additional students attending charters.

"The great thing in a system like this is change happens really quickly," Toews said.

"A this point, the school districts in Tucson and in southern Arizona need to wake up and realize we do have competition," said Tucson Unified School District governing board president Miguel Cuevas.

Cuevas said that factors like the economy are a bigger influence on declining enrollment in the district, but that TUSD is considering starting its own charter.

"I believe that the intent of creating a charter school for Tucson Unified is determining what parts can we grow as a district and also what can we learn from the success of charter schools," he said.

"I would ask what their graduates are doing.  I would.  And I would ask what their college acceptance rate is.  Look at the end result," Toews said as advice for people considering charter schools.

BASIS stands by its results, with more students ready to be part of its success.

"We're going to be ready when the time comes," Rodriguez said.

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