Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Results-Based Funding: The Transition From Test Scores To School Grades

Posted By on Tue, Oct 17, 2017 at 2:10 PM

We already know which schools are splitting up the $38 million in results-based funding for the 2017-18 school year. The money is going disproportionately to schools with students from the most affluent homes. The top 11 percent of schools by family income make up almost 40 percent of schools getting the funding. Even more of those schools would get the funding if it weren't for a stipulation built into the formula to make sure the bottom 50 percent of schools in terms of student income make up almost half the schools getting the money. Next year, that stipulation is gone.

Most likely in the 2018-19 school year, over 80 percent of the schools getting results-based funding will be from the top half of schools in terms of family income. That means less than 20 percent of the schools will be in the bottom half.

And yet, some schools with high income students are complaining because they're not getting their expected piece of the results-based pie. And no wonder. If a high income school makes the list, it sees close to $6,000 extra per teacher, enough to give teachers a sizable bonus and still have plenty left over for educational equipment and supplies other schools can't afford. If it doesn't make the cut, the school gets nothing.

An explanation of how this works can be mind-numbingly detailed, at least when I'm the guy doing the explaining, so I've created a table I hope will make things clearer. After that, I'll numb the minds of those who dare stick around for all the numbers and explanations.


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Let's Listen To That Awesome New Calexico Single

Posted By on Tue, Oct 17, 2017 at 11:00 AM

Calexico has a new album, The Thread That Keeps Us, coming out in January, which makes us even more excited to travel to Phoenix for this week's Lost Lake Festival so we can hear some of the new material live.

Bandleader Joey Burns says The first single, "End of the World With You," is "sort of a love song set in troubled times."

Here's the bulletin from Joey:

We have some exciting news to share. This past spring and summer of 2017, the band and I have been busy working on a new album that's taken us to the Pacific coast of Marin, California and to John's hometown of El Paso, Texas; we also did some work in Tucson. Today we are excited to announce the release of the new album. It's titled The Thread That Keeps Us and is set to be released on January 26, 2018.

The first song we are sharing is called "End of the World with You." Inspired musically by some of my favorite indie rock bands when growing up in California (such as Pavement, Sebadoh, and The Replacements), the track is sort of a love song set in troubled times. We've made a lyric video with aerial footage from our travels from El Paso to Northern California filmed by Craig Schumacher and edited by Jonny Sanders. If you look real close you can see John, Craig and I at the very end waving hello.

You can pre-order the album from all the normal places here. We are also partnering with PledgeMusic this time around to come up with some special exclusive items like handwritten lyrics, personalized postcards from the road and signed test pressing copies that we will offer in addition to signed copies of the new album, hats, tees, and more. Make sure to check it out as some of these items are very limited!

We're going to start the tour for The Thread That Keeps Us in March with European and UK dates followed by shows in North America in April to be announced soon. The European dates will go on sale beginning Friday, and you can purchase tickets here. We're really looking forward to seeing you all and playing these new songs for you. Thanks again for all your years of love and support.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Board of Supes Set To Discuss Christy Proposal for Countywide Sales Tax for Roads

Posted By on Mon, Oct 16, 2017 at 11:30 AM

Pima County Supervisor Steve Christy says the region's transportation problems will get worse “every day that we don’t attend to our road-repair crisis.”
  • Pima County Supervisor Steve Christy says the region's transportation problems will get worse “every day that we don’t attend to our road-repair crisis.”
Pima County Supervisor Steve Christy wants a countywide half-cent-sales-tax increase to deal with the county’s dilapidated roads.

Christy’s “Just Fix the Roads Plan” also calls for repealing the property tax increase the county passed in June and send the revenues from his proposed 10-year sales tax to the Regional Transportation Authority so that agency can manage the road repairs.

Christy, who announced his plan last week in Green Valley, said the situation will just get worse “every day that we don’t attend to our road-repair crisis.” The sales tax would bring in roughly $75 million annually, raising $800 million by the 10-year sunset of the tax. The county needs about $900 million for road repair, according to the county transportation department.

The property tax that the Board of Supervisors created earlier this year would only bring in just over $19.5 million annually, according to county documents. Christy and Supervisor Ally Miller opposed the 25-cent property tax when it passed with a 3-2 vote.

The 2017 property tax for road repair has already been levied, and some payments have been collected, according to the County Administrator’s Office. The five-year tax called for annual renewal, so the Board could choose not to renew it next year.

The sales-tax would need unanimous approval to pass. Christy said that with his background as a car salesman, he can hear the other supervisors’ concerns and negotiate an agreement. He hopes to reach a unanimous vote by late November or early December.

Any other possibilities would require either voter approval, which would take time and could get rejected, or action from the state. Chances of help from the Gov. Doug Ducey are next to zero, Christy said.

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Boris Blows Your Mind (and the Rest of Your Body) Away

Posted By on Mon, Oct 16, 2017 at 10:00 AM

The earth moved when Boris took the stage at 191 Toole. - JEFF GARDNER
  • Jeff Gardner
  • The earth moved when Boris took the stage at 191 Toole.

An earthquake hit Tucson Saturday night. Only this earthquake wasn’t measured on the Richter scale, but in decibels. The cause of these tremors was Japanese experimental trio Boris.

Boris specializes in beautiful, overwhelming layers of droning noise-rock. Powerful to a point where you aren’t sure if your hair is vibrating or your skull is about to explode. Still, there is a meditative aura to their music. When the hypnotic drumming and guitar textures paired with their simple yet elegant light show, 191 Toole took on the feel of a peaceful yet infernal temple.

This religious symbolism certainly increased with the drummer who, with a rippled golden gong hung behind him, took on the look of an Orthodox icon or Siddhartha. He generally hit his drums only a few times every minute, in sync with the two guitarists’ swells of unchanging distortion.

This is not to say their show wasn’t without surprises: the drummer occasionally used his gong to thunderous effect and at one point a guitarist even switched to an accordion. But instead of polka tunes, the accordion screamed notes more akin to something from an otherworldly void.

When silence finally took the room at the end of the show, with fog still lingering in the air and a few members of the audience sitting in cross-legged trances, the band said thank you and quietly departed, as if they knew their work there was done.

A Boris live show is not for the faint of heart, though it very well may make your heart faint.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Laughing Stock: Odd as Ever; Ever Laughable

Posted By on Fri, Oct 13, 2017 at 2:10 PM

Christopher Younggren, left is Felix, and Lawrence Fuller, right, plays Oscar in the Arizona Rose Theatre production of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple. - ARIZONAROSETHEATRE.COM
  • arizonarosetheatre.com
  • Christopher Younggren, left is Felix, and Lawrence Fuller, right, plays Oscar in the Arizona Rose Theatre production of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple.
Last year The Odd Couple enjoyed a short revival on TV. The original series ran from 1970 to 1975, spun from Neil Simon’s repeatedly revived play about two hilariously mismatched men whose friendship withstood the crucible of sharing an apartment. One was an obsessive nit-picker; the other a slob to the bone.

The play became a wildly popular movie, which I rented for $2.99 on YouTube on Tuesday, Oct. 3, for obvious reasons. I highly recommend it if you need to make the world go away, as most of us have in the last couple of weeks.

If you’re also avoiding being alone, you can see the play in a brief run that starts Saturday, Oct. 14, at Arizona Rose Theatre Company, a year-old pop-up venue in Tucson Mall. Visit arizonarosetheatre.com for location, showtimes and reservations.

The Odd Couple is quaint in a way that reminds us of how smart the world could be in 1968, and how “woke” we are today in comparison. (The misogyny is pastel, innocent and fleeting.) The dress and manners of the era are charmingly constrained.

Yet the patented snappiness of Neil Simon’s comic dialog remains literally irresistible. If laughs are what you need, they will escape you despite your best efforts.

Arizona Rose’s General Manager Brandon Howell says the company feels ready to tackle what’s arguably Simon’s most enduring work. They’ve bulked up with popular productions of Simon’s Barefoot in the Park and Lost in Yonkers. “In fact, Howell says, “We’re going to bring that back in the Spring it was so popular last time.”

He says director Cynthia Howell, his mother and the family’s artistic director, has updated some of the most jarring anachronisms in the production’s sets and wardrobe She’s left the script almost entirely intact, though.

“That’s what we love about Neil Simon’s work,” Howell says. “His comic timing is so natural. Even in the most dramatic moments, he knows just the right time to break the tension.

“We tried to cast it so the character types fit the characters that Neil Simon wrote, Howell says. Christopher Younggren plays Felix; Lawrence Fuller plays Oscar. “Finding our Oscar was a challenge, but I think because they fit the character types so well, the relationship evolved out of the characters naturally.”

Other characters include Howell’s wife, Stephanie, as a Pigeon sister, continuing the Howell family’s long tradition of involvement since Howell’s parents, Terry and Cynthia, founded the company in 1986.

Koch Brothers Infiltrate Pima County Schools With a High School Econ Course

Posted By on Fri, Oct 13, 2017 at 10:35 AM

  • DonkeyHotey
I have a story in this week's print edition. You can read it here. This is the short version.

The Koch Brothers put up a million dollars. Ken and Randy Kendrick (he owns the Arizona Diamondbacks) pitched in even more. They funded UA's Center for the Philosophy of Freedom, usually shortened to the "Freedom Center," which opened in 2011. From the beginning, the Freedom Center folks had their eyes on training high school teachers in their special brand of libertarian economics and creating courses to be used in high schools.

Starting last year, "Phil 101: Ethics, Economy, and Entrepreneurship” is being offered in Tucson Unified's high schools. This year it's being taught in four of the district high schools as well as schools in the Amphitheater, Vail and Sahuarita school districts and at least seven private and charter schools in Pima and Maricopa counties.  The course was created by the Freedom Center, members of its faculty wrote the textbook, and it offers workshops to instruct high school teachers on how to teach the class. They plan to spread the course to high schools across the state and the country, the more the merrier.

This isn't someone at the Freedom Center saying, "Hey, I have an idea, let's spread our ideology to the high school classroom!" It's part of a carefully conceived plan by the Koch Brothers which began in the 1980s and includes universities across the country, think tanks (the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation are two of the best known examples) and dissemination to the general public, including high school students.

If you want the details, read the article.

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Town and County Officials Say Supervisor Miller is Misleading the Public on Bond Issue

Posted By on Fri, Oct 13, 2017 at 8:31 AM

In a letter dated Oct. 11, Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry sent an email to Oro Valley town manager Mary Jacobs regarding District 1 Supervisor Ally Miller's alleged statements on the Let Oro Valley Excel blog.

Responding to Miller's statement that he misleads voters on bond propositions, Huckelberry has this to say:

"I can assure you that neither assertion is true. In 1997, voters approved $52.65 million for parks and in 2004, $96.45 million. It is verifiable that Pima County never proposed $1 million for every county or municipal park and it is verifiable that in neither election did all of the parks money approved by voters end up being used for a single park."

Huckelberry goes on to write that he is "at a loss" as to why Milelr would "disseminate such false and misleading information" regarding the bond.

"The only logical reason is that it was done to affect the outcome of the Proposition 454 bond election," Huckelberry wrote.

The county administrator ended his letter by suggesting that Jacobs refer the issue to the town attorney for review as to "whether any state election laws have been violated."

Both Let Oro Valley Excel and Supervisor Miller have not returned requests for communication regarding the issue, though the blog did post an update since this story was originally published.

Original Story:
In the weeks leading up to Oro Valley’s Nov. 7 election to decide the fate of a $17 million bond to improve Naranja Park, elected officials and residents have been weighing in via a variety of media: newspapers, web commercials, blogs and more.

It appears that District 1 Supervisor Ally Miller has had her say in the debate on Proposition 454—in the form of a blog post. Uploaded on Tuesday, Oct. 11, on the Let Oro Valley Excel blog site was an email allegedly sent from Miller detailing some of “her thoughts on the Naranja Park Bond.”

Within the excerpts of the letter uploaded to the blog, Miller—who did not return phone calls to confirm that she actually wrote the note—states that there are “issues” with the recently released publicity pamphlet on the bond and takes aim at one of her favorite targets, Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.

Miller said in her email that because the sample ballot contains the words “Parks, open space, recreational bonds” within the “purpose” section, that the funding could be used “on any parks, for purchase of open space, and any recreational purpose.”

But in an email sent to an town resident by Oro Valley senior office specialist Tara Barry, that claim is refuted.

“Supervisor Miller’s assertion that proceeds from the bonds may be used for any Town of Oro Valley park is incorrect,” Barry wrote in her email.

Barry elaborated by saying that the “purpose” listed on the sample ballot is “a summary caption” that does not expand, limit or contradict the specific ballot question asked of voters.

On the sample ballot, the following paragraph is listed after the “purpose”:

“Shall the Town of Oro Valley, Arizona, be authorized to issue and sell general obligation bonds to the Town in the principal amount of $17,000,000 to provide funds to design construct, improve, furnish and equip multi-purpose fields, diamond fields, playgrounds and associated infrastructure and amenities for Naranja Park…”

While Barry’s email did contradict one of Miller’s statements, her communication did support another.

“Supervisor Miller’s assertion that the renderings and list of amenities to be constructed at Naranja Park is non-binding is correct; however, the Town was very specific in its description of amenities and intentions, and provided cost estimates for what will be constructed at Naranja Park should the Oro Valley voters approve the bond,” Barry wrote.

According to Arizona Revised Statutes 35-455, a governing body which utilizes bond funding may only use that revenue “for the purposes stated in the ballot and for the necessary costs and expenses of the issuance and sale of the bonds.”

When looking at the per annum interest rate utilized to calculate the fiscal impact for the bond if passed, Miller correctly pointed out that the rate included in the bond could be as high as 7 percent, but town calculations were performed at 5 percent.

“Ask the Town for the calculations at the 7 [percent] interest rate that voters are being asked to approve. [2 percent] will make a huge difference,” Miller wrote.

According to Barry’s email, the interest rate calculations were completed “in accordance with current Arizona statutes and reflect a reasonable expectation of interest rates based on bond market conditions and is common practice.”

Barry listed the November 2015 Pima County Bond Voter Information Pamphlet, in which the county stated that it had a maximum interest rate of 8 percent, but that an interest rate of 2.78 percent was used for first 5 years, 3.20 percent for next five years and 3.45 percent per year thereafter.

“Therefore, the Town of Oro Valley states a maximum interest rate of 7 [percent], but utilized a 5 [percent] calculation as a ‘reasonable expectation,’ and could actually see lower interest rates based on actual market conditions as stated in the historic numbers provided by Pima County stated above,” Barry wrote in her constituent email.

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The Fix Is In: Free Spay and Neuter Event Hits Town This Weekend

Posted By on Fri, Oct 13, 2017 at 12:35 AM

  • Courtesy of Zach Zupancic
Need a pet spayed or neutered? This weekend at ASAVET Charities’ third annual MEGASpay and Neuter event is the perfect time to do it. Starting at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 14 (dog day) and Sunday, Oct. 15 (cat day), the group will be providing spay and neuter surgeries for pets, along with any follow-up medications that might be needed. Because the nonprofit wants to do its part to improve animal health and safety, it’s putting the event on completely free of charge.

Completely free of charge.

So if you need a pet spayed or neutered (over 1,200 dogs and cats were spayed or neutered over the first two years, and ASAVET is expecting to provide surgery for about 300 animals this year), head over. If you don’t, head over to their website to make a tax-deductible donation to a good cause.

The ASAVET MEGA Spay and Neuter Event will be held beginning at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 14 and Sunday, Oct. 15. at the Old Mission Manor Elementary School, 6105 Santa Clara Ave. Visit AsavetCharities.org or contact Pat Hubbard at path@asavetcharities.org or 403-6947 to learn more.

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Staff Pick

Jurassic Park

This pulse-pounding thrill-ride that made the whole world go dino-crazy scaring the living beejeesus out of moviegoers… More

@ Loft Cinema Fri., Oct. 20, 10-11:45 p.m. and Sat., Oct. 21, 10-11:45 p.m. 3233 E. Speedway Blvd.

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