The Tucson agenda
Oro Valley growth plan to go to public, Marana council road trip
Catalina Foothills unveils new school lit parental permission form, plus more in local gov't meetings
The Oro Valley Town Council is set to start the whole process to update its 10-year general plan.
Easy, social media Illuminati hunters. General plans involve neither plandemics or crisis actors. They are just land-use guides that steer growth and inform what should be built where.
The town council will discuss its vital public engagement process ahead of the scheduled update to the general plan in 2026.
All local governments in Arizona are required to have one. Oro Valley's last master plan update was in 2010.
This is not the same as a "strategic plan," that's government acting like a business in a way that's kind of silly. Government doesn't have the option of positioning itself in the market because of the services it provides – water, sewer, trash pick up, law enforcement, fire protection and zoning – are all required.
Master plans differ from zoning in that planning is supposed to inform zoning designations. Zoning maps largely stay the same. Master plans are regularly updated.
Developers asking for rezonings conforming to the land-use plan are far more likely to achieve success. Ask for a rezoning out of whack with the master plan and the road gets a lot rockier.
State law is actually pretty good here: "The governing body shall adopt written procedures to provide effective, early and continuous public participation in the development and major amendment of general plans from all geographic, ethnic and economic areas of the municipality."
This statute apparently didn't get the memo about "woke."
I've been critical of local governments planning on a plan to have a plan to develop a plan full of plans to address about what stoplight goes where.
This isn't one of those plans.
Oro Valley needs to go to the public and the public needs to involve itself. How and where a community grows is everything. It's traffic, climate, parks, community health, the environment, crime, taxes, education, economic development and quality of life.
For years, zoning battles pitted communities against each other. I remember OV's civic fabric was dang near shredded in the 1990s as it experienced numerous battles over what got built where. The construction of Ironwood Ridge High School and a rezoning to a project near Honey Bee Canyon literally required police escorts.
The town isn't as undeveloped as Marana to the west but it's still got some room to grow and perhaps grow up instead of out.
No one has yet discovered a perfect way to grow. It's all about tradeoffs the community is willing to make.
For instance, the town will also discuss its 10-year capital improvement plan. Oro Valley defines capital projects as one-time expenses greater than $50,000. They include everything from road and water projects to a new HVAC system at the town hall.
They are largely dictated by how Oro Valley grows. It's harder to provide shorter police response times in a sprawling community without hiring new officers. New officers need police cruisers. That's the capital expense.
More density can mean fewer miles of water lines, but the water lines will need to be larger and any breakage can affect more people.
Oro Valley right now has to augment its state shared highway user revenue fund (paid for with gas taxes) with $1 million to $2 million from the town's general fund to pay for capital street projects.
The project list will also be affected by outside factors, like recessions or protracted periods of growth.
Next door, the Marana Town Council is about to go on a retreat.
And by retreat, I mean retreat.
Often, local governing bodies will go to a resort or community center and take a full day or two to take a big-picture look at the issues it faces. They just usually stick around their voters to do it.
Marana's councilmembers are heading up to Litchfield Park, in the shadow of Luke Air Force Base, to hold its retreat at the Wigwam Resort. The retreat will begin Monday afternoon and run through Wednesday.
That's one way to get away from it all, I guess.
So 112 miles from Marana Town Hall, the council will discuss a variety of pressing issues undisturbed by any casual observer.
The council will discuss capital improvement projects, sustainable growth, public art, transportation and water resources.
Say hi to the coyotes for us at TucsonSentinel.com. By that I mean, the Phoenix Coyotes.
Of Orwell and Rosco P. Coltrane
Catalina Foothills Unified School District Governing Board members will vote on a new parental consent form for parents to sign off on, which might just screw up everyone's high school literary experience.
This is how the form – required now by state law – will read using "1984" as an example.
"Description of Material: George Orwell’s classic 1984 is a defining example of the dystopian genre and one of the most famous novels ever written. This novel is a seminal text to which many other films, articles, and novels allude to since its publication in 1948. This novel lends itself to the study of theme and motif, symbolism, close reading, and tone."
So parents have two options:
"My signature below indicates that I am aware of and consent to the instructional use of the material listed described above."
Cool beans. Meet Winston and Julia and learn how bad becomes "ungood."
"I have concerns regarding the material described above and would prefer an alternative assignment (or text, if applicable) be provided for my student."
Well, what happens if the parent says no to "Animal Farm," "Great Expectations" or "The Outsiders." What happens when there are five of those moms and dads bossing teachers around.
What kind of lowest common denominator are students heading toward to keep some parents feeling smarter than their kids? Is our youngins gonna have to bone up on 'The Dukes of Hazzard Gone Racin'" because that's all some parents will agree to?
So over here, teachers will be holding a conversation about the cultural nexus between culture, language and a totalitarian state. Over there, will be commentary on how Daisy Duke tricked Rosco P. Coltrane and freed her cousins from Hazzard County jail and they sped off in a non-racist General Lee.
How is that going to work?
Parents are also free to object to "1984" being a part of the reading list in the first place because all texts now must be up for public inspection and comment for 60 days prior to adoption by school boards. I've yet to see any parents protest anything.
But some in the Legislature would imprison a Miss Beadle for even suggesting "1984" because it has a sex scene in it. Recommending Orwell is, therefor, "sexualizing children." Talk about the nexus between language, culture and a totalitarian state.
Gone, is the outrage
The Tucson Unified School District is having a bear of a time getting anyone interested in their "Communicable Disease Task Force."
Oh. My. God. Are you serious?
What? One drag queen story hour and suddenly the anti-vaxxers forget all about their conspiracy fantasies of 2020?
School districts all over the country took nothing but grief over coronavirus mitigation efforts like being forced to wear masks. All a certain set could talk about was masking socialism.
So TUSD decided to go out to the public and to help put together a plan should a pandemic strike again.
They found Jiminy Freaking Crickets.
Between August and February, the task force held 12 public and fewer than 7 people showed up per outing.
The district staff is now thinking the task force lacked specifics to draw out public engagement. This is true, it's easier to edit than to write. Throw up a plan and let people comment on it, rather than ask them what kind of plan they want.
When the conspirators invite you to be a part of the conspiracy, attend the meetings.
The district will also vote on a kindergartner assessment, now required by Arizona law.
Each new kindergartner in Arizona schools will now have to be assessed for cognitive skills, emotional development, language skills and physical well-being, along with math and language skills.
The assessment must be run by Teaching Strategies, a Maryland education firm.
This move by the Legislature seems smart. What's the catch?
The Flowing Wells Unified School District Governing Board will get a closed-door briefing on the JUUL settlement.
The vaping company is settling a class action lawsuit arguing it illegally targeted kids.
The settlement has been discussed around southern Arizona in vague terms.
However, Flowing Wells gives some detail. The final amount "remains confidential at this time."
Basic math will tell the tale pretty quickly because next year the district will receive half of its settlement payment, which will be disbursed in 12 percent installments during the next five years.
OK, so what about the other two percent? I mean 50 plus 48 equals 98. Hmm.
By the way, that's after the plaintiff's lawyers take 35 percent. Yikes.
The district must approve the settlement by April 7 or the deal is null and void.
I would hope the district will know the final amount before board members vote aye.
Plus, there's that two percent.
Prices up in Vail
The Vail Unified School District will vote on whether to raise prices on child care services the district offers.
Right now, Vail schools provide a series of child care options ranging from an afternoon one off to full-time care for toddlers.
The price increase will range from $44 a month for full-time toddler care to $8 per day when parents drop kids off in the early morning before school starts.
The district has been wrestling with the cost of care for a while because labor costs are going up with an economy short on workers (hint, there are a bunch of asylum seekers trapped by American xenophobia on the other side of the border).
Even still, $7,700 for full-time preschool care is about right to a little low for quality child care.
The district is also looking at raising employee costs for health care benefits.
The employee share for a family health care plan will increase $36.40 per month to a $492 monthly contribution.
The district still picks up 60 percent of the cost of the family plan but each employee themselves, receives free health care.
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.