Committee: House Appropriations, Education & Economic Development Subcommittee
The Maryland Catholic Conference offers this testimony in SUPPORT of the Nonpublic School Safety Grant Program, R00A07.03. 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 more than 50,000 students served by over 150 PreK-12 Catholic schools in Maryland.
One-hundred ninety-nine schools participated in the Nonpublic School Safety Grant Program last year, which provided grants to schools specifically for school security improvements. Schools utilized the funding for safety improvements such as auto-locking security doors, locking hardware, security systems with video capabilities, locking safety windows and safety lighting. It is anticipated that this program will make for a safer school day for tens of thousands of children in FY 2023.
Funded at $3.5 million, this program is included in the state Operating Budget. The Conference concurs with recommended language to be added to the program clarifying intent for a separately administered program, commensurate with the last several years. Additionally, language clarifying a larger allocation to school who have a greater proportion of low-income, free and reduced meals-eligible students is important to the program, again commensurate with prior years.
Many of the schools with lower-income student enrollments would not have been able to complete the security upgrades without this funding. The program is making an impact statewide and is highly popular with administrators in every jurisdiction.
The safety of the children in every school in Maryland should be a paramount consideration. We thank the State of Maryland for partnering with our Catholic schools in making for an even safer environment for their children to learn in. Maryland’s Catholic school community requests that this committee please continue its support for this program in FY 2023.
In HB 300