Tucson's largest school district is making big changes to its calendar for next school year, adding a weeklong fall break and extending its spring break from three days to six.
The calendar received unanimous approval from TUSD's Governing Board on Tuesday night. It was also overwhelmingly supported by parents and schools, according to survey information gathered earlier this month.
Though the calendar is changing, students will still have 180 days of instruction.
The fall break is scheduled for Oct. 1 through Oct. 5, and spring break is from March 25 to April 1. To make room for the extra time off, the first day of school is scheduled for the first week of August rather than the second week.
A fall break provides many opportunities, said TUSD Assistant Superintendent Lupita Cavazos-Garcia.
"It's a chance for all of us to catch our breath, assess data available from the first quarter, and see what kind of interventions we can offer to students who are struggling or want to refresh on certain subjects," Cavazos-Garcia said.
However, because this is the first time TUSD has adopted this kind of calendar, programs and interventions that may be offered over the weeklong break have not yet been worked out, Cavazos-Garcia said.
The district is also worried about families who may not be able to afford day care for the week that students are off.
Because of those concerns, Superintendent John Pedicone urged the board to adopt the new calendar, but to implement it for 2013-2014 school year instead.
Doing so would give TUSD time to work with the community to possibly form partnerships with organizations that can offer services over that week and ensure that parents understand the impact of the decision, Pedicone said.
Board members Adelita Grijalva and Miguel Cuevas both agreed that those arrangements could likely be made over the next several months.
Ruby Parks has four children who will be enrolled in TUSD schools in August.
"It is sometimes a hardship to find child care during the breaks," Parks said. "I've had to use my paid time off before to take days off of work."
While Parks thought it would've been more appropriate for TUSD to work out a plan for programs prior to approving the schedule change, she did like the option of having a different time of the year to take vacation.
Up until now, the two largest districts in the city - TUSD and Sunnyside - were the only school districts in the Tucson area working on a calendar without a fall break.
Time off in other school districts ranges from two days to two weeks in the fall.
Sunnyside is planning to bring calendar options to its Governing Board next month, but it's unlikely that a fall break would be a part of that, district spokeswoman Monique Soria said.
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2012-13 TUSD calendar
• First day of school: Aug. 2
• Labor Day holiday: Sept. 3
• Fall break: Oct. 1 to Oct. 5
• Veterans Day: Nov. 12
• Thanksgiving break: Nov. 22 and Nov. 23
• Winter break: Dec. 24 to Jan. 4
• MLK Jr. Day: Jan. 21
• Rodeo break: Feb. 21 and Feb. 22
• Spring break: March 25 to April 1
• Last day of school: May 23
Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4175.