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Towson Catholic closure highlights need for BOAST Tax Credit, officials say

Nonpublic schools save Maryland taxpayers $1.5 billion annually

The closure of Towson Catholic High School highlights the urgent need for nonpublic schools, businesses, and government to collaborate in ensuring that these treasured institutions are able to continue their record of service to Maryland students, officials said today, calling for passage of the BOAST Maryland Tax Credit in the 2010 legislative session.

“It is obvious that Towson Catholic holds a special place in the hearts of its students, faculty and alumni for the excellent education it has provided,” said Sen. James “Ed” DeGrange (D-Anne Arundel), the lead sponsor of BOAST. “What people may not realize is that Towson Catholic and other nonpublic schools save Maryland taxpayers $1.5 billion annually in educational costs. BOAST would help ensure that those schools continue to thrive.”

The BOAST Maryland Tax Credit would provide businesses a state income tax credit in exchange for their donations to organizations that provide scholarships for nonpublic school students and thereby help stabilize enrollment at those schools. Businesses could also receive the tax credit for their donations to groups that provide enrichment programs for public school students.

“BOAST is a win for everyone,” said Mary Ellen Russell, the executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference. “It benefits public school students and teachers, businesses, and will assist Catholic schools in continuing their two centuries of service to Maryland residents.”

The 163 students who had committed to Towson Catholic for the fall represented a savings of nearly $1.9 million to state taxpayers (based on the average per-pupil cost of $11,556 in 2006-2007). Five other Catholic schools – two in Baltimore City, two in Southern Maryland, and one in Western Maryland – will not open for the 2009-2010 school year. Combined, the six schools provided 503 years of service and educated 847 students last school year at a savings of nearly $9.8 million to taxpayers. There are about 131,000 students in Catholic and other nonpublic schools across the state, saving taxpayers more than $1.5 billion a year.

BOAST (Building Opportunities for All Students and Teachers) passed the state Senate in 2008 but has never been brought to a vote in the House Ways and Means Committee, despite having nearly 60 bi-partisan House co-sponsors. There are more than 20 business tax credits in Maryland that benefit the movie, energy, and telecommunications industries, but none that benefit students. Seven other states, including Pennsylvania, have tax credits similar to BOAST. Indiana is the most recent state to approve such a program, doing so while the state faced a budget deficit.

More information on the BOAST Maryland Tax Credit can be found at www.mdcathcon.org/boastmaryland or www.boastmaryland.org .