Board of Supervisors approves funding for literacy program

The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to fund an expansion of a program that will improve literacy for children in kindergarten through third grade.

The county will provide Literacy Connects with $75,000 to implement its Literacy Infusion Program. The new program will be offered to students during the 2013-2014 school year.

“It’s a great project that is really going to help kids,” said Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias. “We wanted to show that we were supportive of the program.”

Literacy Connects began providing services to students at Mission Manor Elementary School, 600 W. Santa Rosa Street, in 2010, striving to not only improve students’ reading levels, but also to improve parents’ engagement in their children’s education. In the past two years, reading scores at the school have increased by 7 percent and math scores have increased by 5 percent, according to documents provided by Literacy Connects.

This was the fourth time that the motion appeared on the Board of Supervisors’ agenda, having been bumped from three previous meetings. The program had originally requested $167,000, but the board decided to lower that amount due to a lack of money in its contingency fund.

“What we’re happy to do is work together with others to fundraise for that project and make up the difference,” Elias said.

Literacy Connects Executive Director Betty Stauffer could not be reached for comment about how less money will affect the program.

Supervisor Ally Miller voted against the program, saying that it should be the teachers’ jobs to teach students, not outside volunteers.

“I think the root problem is in the school system,” Miller said. “We need to address those problems in the school district and not further burden the taxpayers by double- dipping.”

The board also discussed its position on immigration, unanimously deciding to support positive action by Congress in terms of comprehensive immigration reform. While no formal legislation was passed, the board felt it was important to publicly state its position.

“I do think it’s important because I do think it needs to happen,” Miller said. “Whatever that process is that our federal government passes, I want to make sure that once they pass those laws, we will follow those federal laws.”

The board also approved a motion to approve the Kino North Fields Modification Project. The county will provide $2,424,460 to convert baseball fields at the Kino Sports Complex into youth soccer fields. The Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago White Sox used to hold their Spring Training at the complex, but there is no need for multiple baseball diamonds now that both teams have moved to stadiums in the Phoenix area.

The Board of Supervisors will hold their next meeting on April 2.

Note: This assignment was completed for my Journalism 413: Reporting Public Affairs class.