Students to Lobby for Better Education

Passage of BOAST Ensures Opportunities for All Maryland Students

March 03, 2009

Nearly 150 students, joined by parents, teachers and volunteers from Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Washington will head to Annapolis on Wednesday, March 4 to lobby Maryland’s House of Delegates and Senate for legislation that would support education across all schools in Maryland. Large contingents will attend from St. Patrick School in Rockville, Cardinal Hickey Academy in Owings and St. Matthias Apostle School in Lanham. They will join over 300 other students from around the state to urge lawmakers to pass House Bill 1259 and Senate Bill 715, known as the Building Opportunities for All Students and Teachers, or BOAST.

BOAST is a tax credit for businesses that would provide economic assistance to lower- and middle- income families who find it increasingly challenging to send their children to a Catholic or other nonpublic school. The funds also would go towards enrichment programs for students in public schools and assist teachers across all school types by increasing access to professional development opportunities. Catholic schools face the prospect of closing with a drop in enrollment as families experience economic hardship and struggle to pay tuition. BOAST would give Maryland families hope for a brighter future for their children and benefit schools in retaining talented teachers.

“Catholic schools have provided generations of lower- and middle- income students a high-quality, values-based education, yielding immeasurable social and economic benefits for Maryland,” said Patricia Weitzel-O’Neill, Ph.D., superintendent of Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Washington. “Many people increasingly recognize this unique gift that Catholic schools offer, and we continue to examine ways to keep our schools accessible and affordable to all and to offer increased financial aid to many families, but we can’t do it alone. We need partnerships like BOAST to make it happen.”

A program similar to BOAST has raised more than $360 million for education in Pennsylvania since 2001. HB 1259 / SB 715 authorizes the program but does not contain funding this year. Catholic school students in Maryland save state taxpayers more than $665 million annually, and together with other nonpublic school students, save state taxpayers more than $1.5 billion every year in per-pupil expenditures. The Archdiocese of Washington is offering nearly $4 million in tuition aid next year, which is five times the amount that was available in 2007-2008, but cannot meet the need alone.

For more background on BOAST, please visit the Maryland Catholic Conference web site.

Contact:
Kathy Dempsey or Chieko Noguchi
Office of Communications
301-853-4519 or 301-853-4515
[email protected]