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The saga continues: Pima Community College continues work on accreditation

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The saga continues: Pima Community College continues work on accreditation

Oro Valley wants bigger parks, plus more in local gov't meetings

  • Pima Community College Chancellor Lee Lambert keeps plodding toward a restored school accreditation.
    PCCPima Community College Chancellor Lee Lambert keeps plodding toward a restored school accreditation.

Sometime back in the days of Wyatt Earp — or maybe before Instagram (same thing, right?) — Pima Community College got put on probation over its accreditation.

This week, the PCC Governing Board will discuss the next in a long line of action steps required to get right with the Higher Learning Commission, which put the college on probation in 2013. 

The Chicago-based commission has largely approved of the steps Pima has taken so far but still wants more transparency and better internal communications within the system.

So that's what the board has in the works. The plan is for better communication with faculty, staff and students and a shared governance model.

This process is unfolding while Chancellor Lee Lambert remains the focal point of angst for what detractors call a heavy-handed approach. He's also under the authority of a new board majority looking for changes.

It's all very much like a new reality TV show called: Real Governing Boards of Tucson. At any given time, one of them is at another's jugular with a hunting knife. This has been going on at Pima for more than 10 years.

The college needs to right itself. In the coming economy, an argument can be made a solid community college will be more vital than a four-year university built for superstars. Community colleges are perfect for the kind of training, retraining and updating of skills required beyond a four-year degree.

OV Park life

It's a fifth Tuesday of the month so it's a light week for public meetings, so let's just whip around the horn.

The Oro Valley Town Council will get a look at a new plan to start developing bigger parks.

Now, the town largely relies on developers to build park space into their single-family housing projects. That's fine and all, but the result is a lot of  small parks (3 acres and less) thrown about the town.

Town residents noticed and during last year's master plan update included the need for bigger parks as a priority. The town staff now wants the council to take a study session and discuss options, including changing the code to get developers to consolidate their park lands into a larger swaths of public space.

Smaller "pocket parks" can be cool, too. The town is just out of balance and now wants to make corrections. If there's one thing I'm not worried about, it's the jackboot of the OV council smashing business with socialism.

The council will also vote on a conditional use permit for a Surf Thru car wash (that's not literal) next to an In 'N Out Burger on North Oracle Road and West Water Harvest Way.

Traditionally, a "non-conforming use" of the property requires either a rezoning or a conditional use permit specific to the project. In this case, as part of the development agreement with the Oro Valley Market Place, car washes require these permits to operate. They must comply with noise, traffic and water concerns the community may have.

Grades and wish lists

The Amphitheater Unified School District Governing Board will also hold a discussion about how to approach their "letter grades" applied by the state.

The Arizona State Board of Education grades each school and if they end up with a D or F, the schools must adopt an improvement plan following a public hearing. Amphi will have a general conversation about how to do put together improvement plans.

The board will also discuss it's legislative priorities for the new conclave of representatives and senators in Phoenix. The district wants the Legislature to get their butts in gear and approve an override of the state's spending limit on K-12. Lawmakers have said they'll do it, but they are going to take their time and almost certainly include demands that schools promise never to teach a white person did anything wrong, ever and make sure students know Jehova Loves Trump and Guns.

I may be exaggerating just a bit... a tiny bit.

The rest of list is an absolute laugh-riot. The board is being asked to vote on more money for K-12 schools, less cumbersome state mandates and the money to comply and protect and support due process rights for educators.

What? Is it open mic night at Laff's? This is a Legislature that hates spending money on public school and – public school in general – and more than that despises teachers unions that secure due process rights.

If it were constitutional, they'd zero out the whole schools budget and spend the money on horse dewormer. It's good to dream, I guess. Maybe new Gov. Katie Hobbs will be some help.

The Tucson Unified School District Governing Board will hold a special meeting Tuesday to discuss good governance, the open meeting law and better leadership and communication.

Those are all the items on the agenda other than pro-forma roll call and adjournment.

The Sahuarita Town Council will hold a similar meeting Monday night. During a private meeting (though publicly posted) with lawyers, they will discuss their options with security in town buildings.

And that's all we got this week. Enjoy your day.

Blake Morlock is an award-winning columnist, who worked in daily journalism for nearly 20 years and is the former communications director for the Pima County Democratic Party.

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