It allows some low income families an opportunity to attend private schools.
Baltimore Md (KM) The Maryland State Department of Education is taking applications for the BOOST program. BOOST stands for Broadening Opportunities for Students Today. These scholarships allow students from low income families to attend private schools.
“We have a lot of wonderful public schools in Maryland. We also some terrific non-public schools. This gives parents a choice,” says Bill Reinhard, spokesman for the MSDE.
The program started last year, when more than 2500 students received BOOST scholarships to attend private schools during the 2016-17 academic year. “We were able give scholarships that ranged from $1,000 to $4400, and it really helped defray the cost of those schools for those families,” Reinhard says.
This year, the state hopes to offer a total of $6-million in scholarships this year.
Reinhard says there are qualifications students’ must meet before receiving a BOOST scholarship. “Students, their families, have to be eligible for Free or Reduced Price Meals. And they have to be accepted into a private school, a non-public school,” he says.
But the schools themselves need to meet certain requirements if they want to participate. Reinhard says religious schools can take part, but they cannot limit their enrollments to only those members of their respective faiths. “Maryland really is a diverse state, and we want to make sure that all students have opportunities at these schools,” he says. “So if you have any kind of–I guess–discriminatory practices, if you accept students from that religious, you would not be eligible.”
“If a school is way too expensive, we don’t pay for those,” says Reinhard. “But most of our schools fall within those guidelines. In fact, we’ll have a few more eligible schools this year than we did last year.”
Families who want more information on BOOST, or would like to apply for a scholarship, they can go on line to www..marylandpublicschools.org. The deadline to apply for the 2017-18 academic year is June 15th. Students who received a BOOST scholarship during the current school year and still meet all the qualifications must apply again for the upcoming school year.
Reinhard says this program does not take away funding from public schools. “This all new funding,” he says.
By Kevin McManus