TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - At Academy Del Sol, the students play piano and wear uniforms. But it's not a private school: It's a public charter school competing for the same students and funds as Tucson Unified School District.
"With charter schools coming in, education gets better because it enhances that competition," school founder Sara Riegert said. "The competition is real; it is not to be ignored. But I'm glad for that because it makes education better; it makes us all strive a lot more.
Now TUSD is striving to bring back the students its lost. According to the Arizona Daily Star, these are the exit polls.
Charter schools: 959
Other public schools: 883
Home school: 29
Private school: 65
Left the state: 535
Academy Del Sol is one of Tucson's newest charter schools: It's only six weeks old. The school has welcomed more than 430 students so far -- some from nearby Hohokam Elementary School, one of the recently closed TUSD schools. At Academy Del Sol, enrollment goes up everyday.
"We hear a lot of people coming to us -- disenchanted with their former district," Riegert said.
"They're not satisfied with what they're getting or they're upset with how they've been treated by TUSD," said Tucson Education Association president Frances Banales. "We fix that, we fix our house."
Banales said the district needs to work on mending the relationships with the families and communities that are discouraged.
"That's what we're hoping to do here is to really promote our schools, be patient, but try to get those people back -- those students and families back quickly," Banales said.
She said the district usually does retain those lost students by middle or high school. Now it's just a matter of not losing them in the first place.