HB 100 (FY2020 Budget) — R00A03.04 - Funding for Educational Organizations Aid to Nonpublic Schools - Nonpublic Student Textbook Program

Committee: House Education and Economic Development Subcommittee

Position: Support

The Maryland Catholic Conference offers this testimony in SUPPORT of the Nonpublic Student Textbook Program allocation included in the proposed FY2020 Operating Budget.  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 approximately 50,000 students served by over 150 PreK-12 Catholic schools in Maryland.

The Nonpublic Student Textbook Program benefits approximately 80,000 students in Maryland’s nonpublic schools annually, despite being limited to students who attend schools that charge a tuition lower than the state per pupil average. The parents of those students across the state are grateful to the General Assembly for its continuous support for this program.  The program saves parents a significant amount of money every year, acting as a measure to defray the costs of textbooks and technology.  This is particularly true in lower-income schools where parents often struggle to make ends meet.   

Under this program, schools with lower-income enrollment receive a higher allocation of textbook and technology assistance per student.  Specifically, thousands of lower and middle-income families are served by Maryland’s Catholic schools every year.  We urge you to protect this allocation on behalf of these students and working families, to whom this program provides a much-needed benefit.   

Our schools are grateful to this subcommittee and the many other members of the General Assembly who have continued to support our nonpublic schools.  We are also grateful to the administrators at the Maryland State Department of Education, who work so hard every year to ensure that this program operates efficiently and with great accountability.  We respectfully urge you to continue your support for the Nonpublic Student Textbook Program in the FY 2020 budget as a means of supporting our students and families.