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Community Academy 2019 – Reserve your seat today!

September 23, 2019

For over 22 years, the Town has hosted its Community Academy to help residents learn about the community and local government. There are a limited number of seats until registration closes. Reserve your seat today! The Community Academy is free, and the deadline to enroll in this year’s academy is Friday, September 27.

Milini Simms, the Town’s Principal Planner who facilitates the academy, thinks one of the most unique qualities of this program is, “That it puts Town directors directly in front of the citizens. With the Community Academy you get to discuss important topics with the people who are recommending the big decisions in our community, in an engaging and informal atmosphere.”

One of the big changes the Town has made over the years, based on surveys and feedback from the participants, is to compress the schedule. This year, the academy will begin Thursday, October 3 and run through Thursday, October 29. Sessions will be held twice per week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Hopi Room in the Community and Economic Development building at Town Hall. The session lineup for this year is:

Thursday, October 3 – Town Strategic Leadership Plan

Tuesday, October 8 – History of Oro Valley

Thursday, October 10 – Town Infrastructure and Services

Tuesday, October 15 – Town Water Resource Planning

Thursday, October 17 – Planning for Community, Economic Vitality and Future Growth

Tuesday, October 22 – Legal Parameters of Zoning

Thursday, October 24 – Development Review Process

Tuesday, October 29 – Roundtable Discussion

Wednesday, November 6 – Graduation with Town Council

The Town’s Community Academy has its roots in the creation of the Citizen Planning Institute (CPI) in 1997, which two Town planners working in conjunction with Town Council members established to provide residents with more tools to effectively participate. The idea stemmed from Town Council and staff at that time noticing that the average person walking into a meeting often was not aware of, or did not understand, the rules and parameters that the Town has to work under. And so it began as a process to encourage our residents to engage earlier in the planning process, as well as other governmental processes.

Oro Valley was the first municipality in Arizona to try this, and from the beginning, the Community Academy has had really good attendance, and the Town has held it annually since its inception. What started as a primer in planning and zoning morphed into an overall course on civil discourse: how to make presentations, how to negotiate with a developer and how to get involved eventually grew into covering broader topics. The Town began to encourage Town Council members and the Planning and Zoning Commission to go through the course. In the early 2000s it became a requirement for board and commission members to attend and the name of the program was changed to the Community Academy.

Space is limited, so please register by September 27. For more information or to register, visit If you have any questions, contact Milini Simms at or (520) 229-4836.