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K-12 School Options in Tucson

Tucson offers a wide variety of K-12 school options.  The Tucson metro area is home to 15 public school districts, more than 80 charter schools, and more than 50 private K-12 schools. Without a doubt, Tucsonans have more options for K-12 education than almost any other city in the country.  

Just as every child is unique, every school and the way they educate is unique.   Here is a snapshot of the types of schools available in Tucson.


Many Tucson area schools you will need to submit applications for enrollment in the FALL.  This includes some district schools (Magnet or Specialty Programs), Charter schools and Private schools.    Schools and districts will set their own “open enrollment” dates.   Once their deadlines pass – it could be difficult to gain admission as seats may fill up. 

The school options available to families in Tucson are:

  • Sometimes referred to as “neighborhood schools”
  • There is NO cost to attend a public school
  • Your neighborhood school is determined by the school’s boundary map & your address
  • AZ is an ‘Open Enrollment’ state -you can apply for admission to any public school – regardless of home address
  • Click here for links to all school districts in the Tucson area
  • Free, Public District Schools that offer a specific course of study or focus
  • EX: Fine Arts, STEM, Montessori or Dual Language Immersion
  • Students can apply to attend any public magnet school through Open Enrollment
  • Many have fall enrollment deadlines and waitlists
  • Click here to view and learn about TUSD magnet schools
  • Charter schools are FREE Public Schools
  • They are publicly funded and privately managed
  • Parents must apply to enroll and space is often limited
  • Many have Fall Enrollment deadlines and waiting lists
  • Click here for FAQs on Arizona Charter Schools
  • Not publicly funded – families pay tuition
  • Established to support parents’ differing beliefs about their children’s education
  • AZ has tax credit and scholarship programs to expand your school options
  • Be mindful of application and scholarship deadlines
  • Click here to learn more about private school funding options
  • Parents can prepare their own materials and design their own programs
  • Parents can use pre-existing homeschool curriculum and materials
  • Teaching at home requires time, planning, creativity and commitment
  • Arizona law allows a homeschooled child who resides within the attendance area of a public school to participate in interscholastic activities  A.R.S. 15 § 802.01
  • Click here for Pima County Homeschool Information


Public District School Locator - Pima Association of Governments (PAG)

Enter your address and locate the nearest public district schools (Elem, MS, HS)

Public District Boundary Map for Pima County

The greater Tucson area is home to 15 Public School Districts

District Quick Links

Below are quick links to the 15 Tucson public district homepages, school boundary maps, enrollment links, and more.

Key Terms Defined

Arizona state law allows students to apply for admission to any public school, based on available classroom space (A.R.S. § 15-816.01). The law requires school districts to develop open enrollment policies and to post the policies on the district’s website and make them available to the public upon request.

In Tucson, students can attend a school that is not their “resident” or “neighborhood” school, if the receiving school has the capacity to accept them.  Districts and schools must accept students if they have available classroom space.  If schools are full – districts must follow policies on admissions criteria and cannot be discriminatory in nature.

Montessori is a way of teaching that honors each child’s individuality and interests. Montessori schools put a great emphasis on exploration and learning through hands-on activities. Children are encouraged to question and experience the joy of discovering the world around them through their classroom experience.  An example of a Montessori school in Tucson is Khalsa Montessori School.

Schools that provide services that meet the needs of students, families, and the community. They focus on the whole child (i.e., health care, mental health, and community engagement).  Community schools bring family resources together in one place to support the whole family.  Higher Ground is the lead agency in creating the infrastructure for Community Schools in Tucson neighborhoods. Visit Higher Ground’s Community Schools Initiative to learn more.

Language immersion schools immerse students in a second language. Two languages are used to teach a variety of subjects, including math, science, or social studies. TUSD has 12 campuses that offer dual language programs. 

For information, please visit TUSD’s programs.  

For information on Catalina Foothills District’s Mandarin Chinese Language Immersion please click here

Waldorf schools offer a developmentally appropriate, experiential, and academically rigorous approach to education. They integrate the arts into all academic disciplines to enrich learning for children from preschool through twelfth grade. Waldorf education aims to inspire lifelong learning in all students and enable them to fully develop their unique abilities. The Tucson Waldorf School is a local example of Waldorf Education in action.


Within schools, these are programs that include special practices, procedures, and theories used in the education of children who have been identified as gifted or talented. These are often referred to as GATE programs in Tucson.  Typically, students are identified through standardized or cognitive testing.  The main approaches to gifted education are enrichment and acceleration. Districts and schools each have their own way of providing programs and education to students identified for advanced instruction and curriculum. 

Learn more about TUSD’s GATE Program

Learn more about CFUSD’s Gifted Education Program


Special Education (often referred to as Exceptional Education) is a specially designed curriculum and instruction to meet the needs of the child with a disability.  In the public school system, this is provided at no cost to the family.  Special Education is regulated by federal law, which ensures that students with disabilities receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) that meets the student’s individual needs. Arizona Public Schools have procedures in place to identify and determine if students qualify for special education services.  For more information about Exceptional Education from the Arizona Department of Education.

Parents have the right, as well as the responsibility, to direct their children’s upbringing in a manner consistent with their beliefs and with knowledge of each child’s unique needs, talents, and abilities.

The state of Arizona recognizes this fundamental right, and therefore has a robust set of laws that protect parental rights to direct a child’s upbringing, education, and health care. Each school district and charter school must post a link to the Arizona Department of Education’s parental handbook of parent rights

Many schools offer advanced curriculum and opportunities to challenge students with rigor and the opportunity for high school students to earn college credit.  

Advanced Placement (AP) courses offer rigorous content, and at the end of a course, students can take the national Advanced Placement exam. If students perform well on the exam, many colleges and universities will grant college credit for completing the course. 

The International Baccalaureate (IB) is a program of rigorous academic courses. Students who complete the program receive an International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma, which is recognized by colleges and universities. Other students may choose not to take the full IB curriculum, but to pursue certificates in specific areas. Elementary and middle schools may also offer components of the IB program.

Click here for more information on AP and IB Programs in Arizona
Click here for the differences in AP and IB Programs