TUSD's newest school starts with new ideas

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- School is now in session for Tucson's largest district and one TUSD school is opening its doors for the first time.

Students at Mary Belle McCorkle preK-8 will learn with new technology and a slightly different teaching philosophy, although construction is not quite complete.

This year at McCorkle, every kid is the new kid getting acquainted with a brand new school.

It's bigger, better, and with new ideas. The classrooms are called studios. And the buildings are equipped with project labs.

"The idea is that as students are working on things.  They don't have to break them down, move them around. They actually can be created there and stay there," said Principal Elizabeth Redondo.

"It actually looks like a really good school and the other school they had they were kind of shorted on stuff," said a parent.

And it's a dual language school, so kids attending pre-K through 8th grade can graduate to high school bilingual.

"Since it's a dual language, Justin wants to learn Spanish," said a parent.

Other ideas include grouping two grades in each class and not because of budget cuts. It's meant to foster mentoring among students and allow them to keep the same teacher for two years. On that, some parents are split.

"I like it," said one mother.

"Thirty-one kids is too much for a teacher, especially if she doesn't have an assistant," said another parent.

On the first day of school at McCorkle, the school is also a construction site.  Some parents are OK with it.  Others are a little concerned.

"The library.  The cafeteria's not done.  Play ground's not done.  So, frustrating," said a parent.

The rest of the construction is set to be done in October.  Until then, it's sack lunches in the classroom as the kids get used to their new, high tech surroundings.

Enrollment at McCorkle is higher than expected.  Nearly 500 students started class Monday.  Right now it is preschool through 6th grade.  They will add 7th grade next year, and 8th grade the year after.