$150 million dollars…. that is the amount of money Catholic schools save Delaware on an annual basis. Throw in students attending other private schools in Delaware, and the amount is even greater. Can you imagine the impact on our budget, on our local public school districts, if all the children enrolled in private schools suddenly began attending our public schools?
And yet, Governor Markell, in his proposed budget, would eliminate state funds that assist private schools in paying school nurses, as well as the current partial reimbursement for transportation provided to parents. We all understand that Delaware faces a critical budgetary situation- however, the fact remains that this proposal is short sighted and wrong.
Understanding the overall cost-savings children enrolled in private school represent to Delaware is critical to placing Governor Markell’s proposal in context. At present, state funds account for less than half of the total cost of providing nurses in Catholic schools. This year, the funding amounts to a mere $350,000. Regrettably, I don’t have numbers for the total amount of state funds for nurses provided to all private schools, however, since students attending Catholic schools make up the majority of this population, I think the reader is provided an accurate picture with the Catholic school number alone.
The state transportation reimbursement, which is available to private school parents’ who drive more than two miles, averages about $140 per family. Overall, the reimbursement cost the state about $2 million this year (again, this is merely for Catholic school families, the actual over-all number would be higher when all private school families are factored in).
Still, these expenditures are a mere pittance when compared to the substantial over-all cost savings that children enrolled in private schools represent to the State.
The fight to preserve funding for nurses and transportation looks like it will be an annual battle. Last year, Gov. Markell’s plan to eliminate both was defeated when private school parents mobilized on the issue. It’s time to take the field again. According to the Dialog, the Delaware Alliance of Catholic School Parents will be meeting on March 8 @ 7 pm at Padua Academy (905 N. Broom Street) to discuss the proposed cuts. I encourage the parents of students attending other private schools throughout our state to mobilize on this issue as well.
In the interest of full disclosure, your’s truly happens to be on the advisory board of a local Catholic parochial school and the proud parent of a Catholic school student.