Committee: House Education and Economic Development Subcommittee
The Maryland Catholic Conference offers this testimony in SUPPORT of the Nonpublic School Safety Grant Program. 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.
This school year, the Nonpublic School Safety Grant Program provided grants to nonpublic schools specifically for school security improvements. Schools applied for safety grants this past December, utilizing 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.
Funded at $3.5 million, this program is now included in the state Operating Budget. It is administered by the Interagency Committee on School Construction, but is a separate fund and does not take any money from the Public School Construction Program.
Last year, lower-income schools received enhanced grant funding to aid their schools, which was a welcome enhancement as many of them would not have been able to complete the security upgrades without this funding. The program has made a statewide impact and has already been highly popular with administrators in every jurisdiction.
The safety of the children that our Catholic schools educate is paramount. We thank the State of Maryland for partnering with our Catholic schools in creating an even safer environment for them to learn. Maryland’s Catholic school community emphatically thanks this committee for creating this grant program last year and asks that it please continue that support in FY 2020.