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Soup Kitchen takeover: South Tucson seats new council

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Soup Kitchen takeover: South Tucson seats new council

  • A new cadre of activists will take their place on the South Tucson City Council, lead by longtime class warrior Brian Flagg.
    sandywayneinoz/2.0 licenseA new cadre of activists will take their place on the South Tucson City Council, lead by longtime class warrior Brian Flagg.

A half an hour before polls close in Arizona, the South Tucson City Council will swear in its class of 2022.

Technically, the candidates do run in a general election but there are only three seats open and in August, voters were asked to pick three candidates from a list of six. 

So that was the general election.

This election sees the selling out (that's a joke) of one of the great characters of local politics who is finally taking his place in elected office.

Brian Flagg will start his time on the City Council. And it's a total Brian Flagg move.

Flagg is the man behind Casa Maria Soup Kitchen, which feeds those without a roof over their head. He has for decades been a fierce, nay, ferocious advocate for folks who are down on their luck.

This is a guy who for years could just pack a City Council or Board of Supervisors meeting with 500 chanting, stomping, fist-pumping bodies and demand action. He'd get it, too.

I remember one time interviewing the late Supervisor Richard Elias about something and he had to get off the phone – like immediately. There was a town hall Flagg was hosting and being late was not an option. I joked with him about the leash being snapped and Elias just said "it's roll call, brother."

The reason I say it's "classic Flagg," is that (depending on his hair length) he could run for Tucson City Council and probably win. He could grab a seat on the Board of Supervisors if he wanted. But no, leave it to him to go to South Tucson — a town struggling just to remain incorporated — and work there.

He didn't just get elected, he rolls into office as part of a three person slate that also includes soup kitchen team Cesare Aguirre and Roxanna Valenzuela. 

Aguirre is a rapper and activist who practices "the works of mercy and justice." Valenzuela is a hair stylist who once owned her own salon and now works to "protect South Tucson from financial predators."

They've all gone from clapping, chanting and fist-pumping to holding onto power. The well-being of a troubled city is now their responsibility.

We'll see how this goes.

Enrollment and textbooks 

The Catalina Foothills Unified School District governing board will receive a report showing that enrollment is down to 5,066 from 5,116 in 2021-22 and up by four students over the previous year. 

School funding from the state is determined in part by district enrollment. So the district won't lose much.

The district will also vote on a new social studies curriculum that focuses on civics, economics, geography and history. The idea is to help students understand history and think critically as they gain understanding about how trends can inform the future and make them better global citizens.

The Flowing Wells Unified School District Governing Board will also vote on a social studies curriculum provided by textbook publisher McGraw Hill. When we talk new curriculums, in this case, it relates to textbooks, but read on.

The new curriculum, would focus on civics and economics as well.

Flowing Wells will also vote on giving $210 to each teacher out of the schools tribal gaming fund.

Finally, new interscholastic athletic rules requires paid shot clock operators for basketball games. The new position will pay $20 for a night's work.

The Marana Unified School District Governing Board will be updating policies to let administrators carry as many as 35 vacation days over from one year to the next.

The district also will approve allowing out-of-district 2nd and 5th grade students to enroll at Roadrunner Elementary School because the school has capacity for it.

The district will also vote on establishing a new service club requested by students.

The district will also work with Scottsdale educational support firm Educational Services Incorporated to conduct the district's hiring. It's worked with ESI for 19 years, so this isn't a new policy. 

In a report to the board, district leaders say outsourcing hiring to ESI has managed to retain high-performing personnel, save money on payroll, improve flexibility and allow the district to remain competitive with neighboring districts.

The staff doesn't explain how outsourcing does these things, but a firm that works with multiple districts would have a more comprehensive understanding of the nature of the educational job market.

Schools outsourcing

The Sunnyside Unified School District, will vote on a contract with EL Education Services to provide an educational curriculum that is purported by the contractor to boost character, quality student work and mastery of knowledge. 

What's interesting about these contracts (and curricula for sale are a growing industry) is that they are licensed. So a teacher who finds EL's system of teaching helpful, is legally forbidden from using things they learned from the system at a future job. 

I'm trying to think about how that would work. I learned at the Arizona Daily Sun not to use the term "centered around." Would I have to use "centered around" if I were under a licensing agreement in Flagstaff even though "centered around" makes absolutely no sense?

How do teachers just move to trash what they learned as part of their professional development?

The three-year contract will cost Sunnyside $75,000.

Sunnyside will also approve a contract with Pima Community College for the Upward Bound post-graduation preparatory program.

The college will run the program through Sunnyside, which will facilitate it with space and staffing assistance.

The program provides select students with "skills, knowledge, and motivation necessary to successfully graduate high school and beyond." So it's not just a college prep course.

Sahuarita Unified School District, in one of the better ironies, is updating its public right to know policies but aren't disclosing how. Hmmm.

The district will also update it's policy on student immunizations to preclude coronavirus from being on the list of prescribed shots. The update will keep the district aligned with a new state law meant to honor Donald John Tru ... I mean protect parental rights. 

Aside from that, the board isn't doing much other than setting the 2024-25 school calendar. The year will start August 5 and end May 23.

Marketplace ideas

The Oro Valley Town Council will meet to discuss two items during a special meeting. 

First, the council will launch a nationwide search for a new town manager after Mary Jacobs unexpectedly quit the post in September. 

Ralph Anderson and Associates, a California-based executive "headhunting" firm, will conduct the search. Chris Conelison, the deputy town manager, will fill in on temporary basis as acting manager.

The council will also vote on a revised plan for the Oro Valley Marketplace at the southwest corner of North Oracle Road and East Tangerine Road. 

The project was before the council in May and the developer on the project learned that approval would require some changes that reduced the density of the project. The developer, Town West Realty, is still asking to build up to three hotels and four apartment projects on the site.

It requires a few votes to comply with the town ordinance governing environmentally sensitive land, planned area developments and mixed-use flexibility.

Blake Morlock is an award-winning columnist, who worked in daily journalism for nearly 25The years and is the former communications director for the Pima County Democratic Party.

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