R00A03.04: Funding for Educational Organizations Aid to Nonpublic Schools - Nonpublic Student Textbook Program (Senate)

The Maryland Catholic Conference offers this testimony in SUPPORT of the Nonpublic Student Textbook Program allocation included in the proposed FY2017 Operating Budget.  The Conference represents the public-policy interests of the three (arch)dioceses serving Maryland, the Archdioceses of Baltimore and Washington and the Diocese of Wilmington, which together encompass over one million Marylanders.  We offer this testimony on behalf of the families of approximately 50,000 students served by over 150 PreK-12 Catholic schools in Maryland.

We offer this statement in support of the Nonpublic Student Textbook Program for FY 2016.  While this program is limited to students who attend schools that charge a tuition lower than the state per pupil average expenditure for public schools, this program still benefits over 80,000 students in Maryland’s nonpublic schools.  Additionally, schools with lower-income enrollment, which represent a sizeable number of students, receive a higher allocation per student.  Specifically, thousands of lower and middle-income families are served by Maryland’s Catholic schools every year, the overwhelming majority of which are eligible for this program, due to the lower tuitions that they charge.   We urge you to protect this allocation on behalf of these students and working families, to whom this program provides a much-needed benefit.  

As parents face continued affordability concerns and the cost of educating students rises, particularly in light of need to ensure that all teachers are state-certified at our Catholic schools and are paid fair salaries, enrollments at Maryland’s nonpublic schools have declined by over 45,000 students over the last decade due.  However, Maryland’s nonpublic schools continue to save the state and its taxpayers approximately $1.5 BILLION every year.  Please help preserve these savings through your continued support.

Our schools are grateful to this subcommittee and the many other members of the General Assembly who have continued to support our nonpublic schools.  We are also grateful to the administrators at the Maryland State Department of Education for their efforts to ensure that this program operates efficiently and with great accountability.  We respectfully urge you to continue your support for the Nonpublic Student Textbook Program in the FY 2016 budget as a means of supporting our students and families.