Arizona Purple Star pilot program kicks off with four schools supporting military families

GOODYEAR – Great Hearts Trivium Preparatory Academy, Luke Elementary School, Millennium High School and Dreaming Summit Elementary School are the first in a Purple Star pilot program launching in Arizona. The Purple Star designation is for schools with programs dedicated to supporting military-connected children in their education and social-emotional development.

Chris Wright, military liaison and third grade teacher at Great Hearts Trivium Preparatory Academy in Goodyear, speaks about the Purple Star Schools program, on Nov. 21, 2023. (Photo by Kiersten Edgett/Cronkite News)

An innovative flush: Phoenix turns to artificial intelligence for improved wastewater monitoring

PHOENIX – Phoenix’s Water Services Department has embarked on a pilot program utilizing artificial intelligence in the sewer system to detect irregularities in wastewater and ultimately enhance water quality.

An employee of RDH Environmental Services installs a Kando Pulse device inside a sewer system near Broadway Road and 83rd Avenue in Phoenix on Nov. 8, 2023. (Photo by Ellie Willard/Cronkite News)

‘Perpetuating the Hawaiian culture’: Outrigger canoe teams bring sport, community to Arizona

TEMPE – Arizona has two Hawaiian outrigger canoe teams. They focus on competition as well as preserving Hawaiian culture and building community.

Linda Martin’s paddle comes out of the water during a practice at Tempe Town Lake on Oct. 28, 2023. Martin is a member of Team Arizona Outrigger Canoe Club and is preparing for Another Dam Race, an outrigger canoe competition in Parker. (Photo by Kevinjonah Paguio/Cronkite News)

Number of failing schools fell; alternative schools headed the other way

WASHINGTON – The number of schools getting an F on the state's annual report card has fallen sharply, going from 49 in 2019 to 24 this year, but the number of failing alternative schools rose over the same period.


‘They come visit with their spirit’: Families pay tribute to deceased loved ones for Dia de los Muertos

CHANDLER – Dia de los Muertos – also known as Day of the Dead – which spanned Wednesday and Thursday, is a Mexican holiday dedicated to remembering and honoring deceased relatives and loved ones. It is believed that the spirits of those who have died are able to visit their families on these days.


GCU pushes back against $37.7 million fine over claims it ‘lied’ about costs

WASHINGTON - Grand Canyon University said it "categorically denies" charges by the U.S. Department of Education that the school willfully misled prospective students about the costs of a doctoral degree, leaving those students deeply in debt.


Phoenix to ramp up police presence as World Series, Halloween, Suns game converge

PHOENIX – Spectators can expect a spooky parking situation, increased police presence in downtown Phoenix on Halloween, as both the World Series and a Phoenix Suns game will be happening on the night known for trick-or-treaters. How will the city handle the crowds, cars and costumes?

Downtown Phoenix will host Game 4 of the World Series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Texas Rangers, along with a Phoenix Suns basketball game Tuesday. It’s also Halloween. (Photo by Hunter Fore/Cronkite News)

Carving a masterpiece: Artist Ray Villafane’s 6 tips to unlocking your pumpkin’s potential (with Arizona stencils)

SCOTTSDALE – Renowned pumpkin artist Ray Villafane hosted a pumpkin-carving class, and his work is featured at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa – along with a 1,700-pound pumpkin – through October. Villafane shares carving tips, and artist Emily Mai created Arizona pumpkin stencils for download.

Finished pumpkins from Ray Villafane’s pumpkin-carving class are arranged on the floor. Pumpkin designs can vary with infinite possibilities to try. Photo taken in Scottsdale on Oct. 8, 2023. (Photo by Emily Mai/Cronkite News)

Arizona expert marvels at ‘scientific treasure’ from 7-year asteroid mission

WASHINGTON - A University of Arizona scientist joined NASA officials Wednesday to unveil the results of a successful multiyear mission to a near-Earth asteroid that returned last month bearing what they called "scientific treasure."


Latest student debt relief plan could save 11,700 Arizonans $840 million

WASHINGTON - The Biden administration said Wednesday that it has cleared the way for another $9 billion in student debt relief for as many as 125,000 borrowers - 11,700 of them in Arizona.


‘Eternally complex problems’: Bipartisan advocates talk affordable housing

PHOENIX – A bipartisan group of housing reform advocates, from current and former state lawmakers to government leaders, gathered Thursday to talk about solutions to the lack of affordable housing in Arizona.

Bipartisan housing advocates talk about affordable housing at Arizona Wilderness DTPHX Beer Garden Sept. 28. From left are Jessica Boehm, moderator and Axios Phoenix reporter; Joan Serviss, who leads the Arizona Department of Housing; Amy St. Peter, deputy executive director of the Maricopa Association of Governments; Steve Kaiser, former Republican state senator from north Phoenix; and Arizona Rep. Analise Ortiz, a Democrat who represents west Phoenix and south Glendale. (Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore)

Nearly a third of teacher vacancies went unfilled this fall, most in 8 years

WASHINGTON - Nearly one-third of teaching vacancies in Arizona public and charter schools this fall had still not been filled one month into the school year, according to a new report, that said that was the most in eight years of data on school vacancies.