/ Modified apr 7, 2017 4:13 p.m.

Episode 132: Full-Day Kindergarten Funding Proposal Won't Help Tucson

Plus, local impact of the state budget; Tucson and the sanctuary city controversy.

As the Legislature works out the details of next year's state budget, a few local projects hang in the balance.

Gov. Doug Ducey's proposal to increase funding for all-day kindergarten has drawn praise from education advocates, but it won't help many school districts. About two dozen could get the funding, out of more than 200 districts.

That's because the funding will go to school districts at which more than 90 percent of students qualify for subsidized meals. That means the most impoverished districts will get the extra funding to pay for full-day kindergarten.

But it's a tough measure to meet, said Hector M. Encinas, Sunnyside Unified School District's chief financial officer.

The district has a high percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, at 84 percent, which means it doesn't qualify. Eight of the district's 13 elementary schools would qualify, but Ducey's proposal is based on percentages derived from all schools in a district.

Also in the budget negotiations is a proposal to fund maintenance at state universities. The Arizona Board of Regents have proposed a plan in which the state would return a portion of the sales taxes the schools pay to the state in the course of normal business.

The returned sales tax would be used for building maintenance and construction. At the University of Arizona alone, there's a $200 million need for upgrades to old buildings.

The plan is sustainable, said Regents President Eileen Klein.

It is controversial at the Legislature because cities depend on the sales taxes to help fund their operations, too.

We explore these areas of state budget proposals, and more, in this episode of Metro Week:

  • AZPM's Christopher Conover explains the status of state budget negotiations in Phoenix.

  • Sunnyside Unified School District CFO Hector Encinas explains how the full-day kindergarten funding scheme would work.

  • Tucson City Councilwoman Regina Romero explains why Tucson should not be worried about the federal threat to pull funding from so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to help enforce federal immigration laws. She also says the city's budget deficit this year is manageable.

  • AZPM's Vanessa Barchfield interviews Arizona Board of Regents President Eileen Klein about the board decision to hire Robert C. Robbins as the next UA president, and about state funding for building repairs. See the full interview here:

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