By Catholic Review Staff
A $5 million scholarship program for low-income students to attend nonpublic schools was included in a $42 million operating budget approved March 29 by the Maryland Senate and the House of Delegates.
The Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today (BOOST) program will be implemented for the 2016-2017 school year, and will have to be renewed on an annual basis, according to the Maryland Catholic Conference (MCC).
“This is a tremendous step forward,” said Mary Ellen Russell, MCC executive director, in a statement. “Thanks to the longtime efforts of Sen. Ed DeGrange and Senate President Mike Miller, the support of Gov. Hogan and the assistance this year of House leadership, we finally have a path forward for providing expanded educational options for low-income kids in Maryland.”
Maryland’s BOOST program will be one of approximately 40 educational choice programs in 24 other states nationwide, including the District of Columbia. Some of those programs have been providing students and families with need-based educational assistance for more than a decade and have remained popular with voters and legislators alike, according to the MCC. Several new proposals are pending in legislatures nationwide.
“This bipartisan victory is a win for everyone, especially the many advocates in the nonpublic school community who have worked for years to achieve this goal,” Russell said.
Other legislation sponsored by DeGrange, a Democrat representing Anne Arundel County, sought to achieve the same end. That Maryland Education Credit passed the Senate for the third time earlier this month and was scheduled for a hearing in the House of Delegates March 31.
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