Agudath Israel of Maryland began its week in Annapolis with the Senate committee hearings for the education budget. Rabbi Ariel Sadwin, Agudath Israel’s Maryland director, testified in support of the level funding of the nonpublic school textbook/technology allocation and against a suggested cut due to unspent funds, explaining to the committee that it was likely due to an error in the processing and not due to a lack of necessity. Several Jewish day schools had contacted Agudath Israel after they discovered a decrease in their allocation for the coming year. The decreased allocations can likely be attributed to the new application filing system that has led to some mistakes in the eligibility requirements used for calculating the allocation levels. Agudath Israel reached out to MSDE (Maryland State Department of Education) notifying them of the error, requesting that the mistake be corrected, and apprising them of the likely cut to the funding if the correction isn’t made. This suggestion made a meaningful impact on the senate committee members who were questioning the unspent dollars.
On Wednesday and Thursday, the House and Senate held hearings on the Maryland Education Credit/BOAST Bill. The Senate bill, sponsored, as always, by veteran longtime nonpublic and public school supporter, Senator Ed DeGrange, was heard on Wednesday. The House bill was sponsored by Governor Larry Hogan’s administration and was included in his legislative package, together with a charter school expansion bill. On Thursday, ahead of the afternoon hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee, Governor Hogan held a press conference to express support for both bills. After the press conference, Rabbi Sadwin had the opportunity to speak with members of the media about the BOAST bill and how it will impact Maryland’s schools – both public and nonpublic. [Read and listen here]. Both hearings went well, with supporters of the bill presenting the merits and justification of scholarship tax credit programs and explaining how incentivizing corporate giving to improve education will benefit the entire state of Maryland.
All Marylanders looking to help in this vital cause may do so by taking by taking “the pledge” and interacting with their state elected officials in support of this measure.