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Jul 27, 2012 7:59 PM

Tucson Unified School District still needs to fill many positions before next week

TUCSON - Tucson Unified School District's Superintendent, Dr. John Pedicone, says student enrollment is declining.

"We're losing a lot of our students to charter schools certainly, but in addition we're seeing fewer students in areas that traditionally had families and students."

Last year, TUSD lost around 2,000 students. Prior years have seen an average loss of 1,500. Dr. Pedicone says it's due to a combination of factors.

"We've had a steady decrease in enrollment probably between 5 to 7 years, if not longer."

Another issue facing the district is a lack of teachers, especially in math, science and exceptional education.

Dr. Pedicone says they're still trying to fill around 100 open positions before next week. If they're unable to do so, they'll employ short and long term substitutes.

"We're going to do some things with long term substitutes. We have no choice, but we're going to try to find a long term sub that has the qualifications we need, and then try to grow that person into the position."

Matthew Lopez, who studied science and will now be teaching it at TUSD, says he's not surprised by the shortage.

"When I was at my graduation, there were 7 graduating. In psychology around 700."

He says he'd love to see more people become interested in teaching.

"It would behoove us to have more interest in education because it's how we learn, how we grow, and how we fit into society."

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