Governor Proposed Funding Increase For BOOST Program

MSEA says it will fight it.

Annapolis, Md. (KM)  Governor Larry Hogan has proposed an increase in funding for the Broadening Options and Opportunities For Students  Today. During a visit Tuesday to Bais Yaakov of Baltimore, a Jewish school for girls, Hogan said he will proposed a total of $10-million for the BOOST program over the next three years.

“Our administration has made education our number one priority, and we are working hard to ensure that every single child in Maryland is given the chance of a great education, regardless of what neighborhood they happen to grow up in,” the Governor said in a statement.

The BOOST program sets aside state fund for scholarships for low income children to attend non-public schools. Last year, the Hogan administration dedicated $5-million for the program.

But the Maryland State Education Association is not on board. “It’s a fiscally irresponsible use of taxpayer dollars,” says Sean Johnson, the Government Relations Director for MSEA. “It’s a proposal we fought last year in the General Assembly. The Governor moved it forward in his budget at a cost of $5-million.”

Johnson says this program takes taxpayer money that should go to public schools. “That’s $5-million less that could go toward meeting the unmet needs of our students and the programs in our public schools,” he says. “It’s just a dangerous path for us to be going on as a state.”

He also says this follows the Governor’s decision to withhold money from school systems around the state. Johnson says the Superintendent of Schools in a community like Frederick County could use some of that money that was withheld. “The Superintendent there will tell you that we could reverse the increases in class sizes that Frederick had to go through in the last few years because of Governor Hogan’s withholding of education dollars. Or we could reinstate some of the programs which were eliminated for the same cause,” he says.

Johnson says if parents want to send their children to private schools, that’s their right. But they should not rely on the taxpayers to fund it. “Your  public taxpayers dollars should go to the public schools that are held accountable, and held to high standards that frankly that our private and religious schools are not,” he said.

MSEA says it will fight this proposed increase in funding for the BOOST program when the 2017 legislative session convenes in January. “We will be working with our allies in the General Assembly, and hopefully impress upon them that what the Governor was successful in doing last year not only should not only be stopped, not allowed to be doubled, but eliminated,” says Johnson.

By Kevin McManus