Nonpublic School students rally in Annapolis in 2017 for programs like BOOST.
Governor Larry Hogan (R) continued his support of the Maryland BOOST (Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today) Scholarship Program, proposing an increase in funding for BOOST to $10 million for the 2020-21 school year.
BOOST is a state of Maryland program that provides K-12 students from low-income Maryland families an opportunity to find the best educational fit for their needs by awarding applicants with scholarships to attend nonpublic school.
Hogan's proposed FY 2021 budget, introduced to the General Assembly on Jan. 15, would increase funding for the BOOST program by just shy of $3 million.
"We are grateful that the State of Maryland has continued to invest in BOOST," said Garrett O'Day, deputy director of the Maryland Catholic Conference. "We hope the legislature will also see the positive impact this program is having in the lives and in the academic performance of the students receiving scholarships and maintain this full $10 million in the budget they pass later this session."
The General Assembly has until March 30 to pass the FY 2021 budget, which includes funding for BOOST.
Maryland has slightly increased the program's funding from an initial allocation of $5 million when it was first enacted for the 2016-17 school year, to about $7.5 million for this current school year.
However, in recent sessions, some members of the General Assembly attempted to cut the program, and ultimately, the legislature voted to keep the program at roughly level-funding for two straight years.
For Maryland's low-income families, the minimal increases in funding for the program have not kept pace with demand and need for scholarships. In the current school year, there were 25% more certified applicants than the year before and many were waitlisted after the initial round of awards.
"We've heard from hundreds of parents about how BOOST has changed the lives of their children and helped their families," O'Day said. "We will continue to work to ensure that every Marylander, regardless of income, has access to the educational option that best suits their needs."
If you want to join advocates in support of BOOST, CLICK HERE to join the BOOST Action Network.