On January 11, 2017, the legislative session of the Maryland General Assembly began. Earlier this week Governor Larry Hogan unveiled his 2017 operating budget. True to his word, this year’s budget includes record funding for education for both for public and nonpublic schools. The budget will provide level funding for the nonpublic school textbook technology program as well as the aging school construction grants, that has provided invaluable benefits to Jewish schools.
Additionally, the budget includes the promised increase for the BOOST (Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today) scholarship program. Last month at a special reception in the Jewish community (arranged by Agudath Israel of Maryland) to celebrate the BOOST program, Governor Hogan announced his intention to double the funding of the BOOST program over the next 3 years. For year one of this increase the allocation will go up from $5 million to $7 million. Coinciding with this week’s unveiling of the budget increase, all of the participating schools received their BOOST scholarship checks which will be assessed to the tuition balance of each qualifying student. In the Jewish Day schools alone that amounts to over $1 million in scholarship grants spread over 700 students.
This past Wednesday, Maryland CAPE (the state’s nonpublic school coalition led by Rabbi Ariel Sadwin of Agudath Israel) hosted a seminar for all of Maryland’s nonpublic schools to learn about all of the changes and modifications to the ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) federal education law. Over 100 nonpublic school administrators attended the seminar which was led by the renowned educational consultant Michelle Doyle, and also featured important state legislative updates .