Title I education services
AIMD was vital to the process of securing previously untapped federally-funded education services and supplies for students attending Baltimore area day schools in need of additional tutoring and other remedial services. Since gaining access to these vital services in 2009, this program has become an invaluable resource to the many eligible students who utilize it.
Textbook program and aging school construction grants
As one of the state’s leading private education advocates and chair of the nonpublic school coalition (Maryland CAPE), AIMD has worked to maintain and expand the allocations in the Governor’s budget for the benefit of Maryland’s Nonpublic Schools. In 2013, the efforts of the nonpublic school coalition yielded a significant increase to the textbook program, raising it from $4.4 million to $6.1 million. Also in 2013, an allocation of $3.5 million in the budget was designated for nonpublic schools to update aging aspects of their buildings in need of repair and to bolster their security services. Since then, these allocations have remained fully funded despite other cuts in the state budget.
Special education funding/advocacy for students with disabilities
AIMD has been very involved in the interactions with state officials regarding special education services in the day schools as well as advocating for more efficient use of funds for individuals with disabilities. Through continued advocacy in addition to data and needs presentations to state education officials, these areas have seen significant progress over the last several years.
BOOST Scholarship Program
New in 2016, the state of Maryland implemented the BOOST (Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today) Scholarship Program for students eligible for free or reduced price school lunches. After it passed in April, a statewide application process was launched for all households interested in a nonpublic school scholarship grant, to determine eligibility. AIMD mobilized the Jewish day school community across the state and facilitated awareness and assistance to countless families trying to navigate the process. The program yielded results beyond expectations and the Jewish day school community received over 21% of the overall allocation – totaling 700 scholarships worth more than $1 million.
Education Tax Credits advocacy leadership
The scholarship tax credit initiative (formerly known as BOAST and now as the Maryland Education Credit), when enacted, will provide Maryland state tax credits to businesses which donate to scholarship foundations serving local private schools . The initiative has progressed over the years due to AIMD leadership in the nonpublic school coalition. AIMD has served on several workgroups and task forces on the topic (including an appointment by Governor Martin O’Malley to study the bill in 2012).
Digital learning expansion
Many initiatives are being sought that can potentially provide educational resources without the hefty price tag to the nonpublic schools and their students. Use of computer software and the internet as a means to educate affordably has become a popular alternative in a growing number of school communities. AIMD secured an expansion to the state’s nonpublic school textbook program (above) to allow for funds to be used to purchase digital and online educational curriculum.
School transportation expansion
The Baltimore community has benefited from the use of MTA buses and a subsidized student fare for school transportation. While the initiative has been in existence for many years, in recent years, AIMD has successfully worked to expand the program to include additional schools and offer service to a wider area. At AIMD’s suggestion, since 2015 student bus tickets have replaced the long lines at the “farebox”, thus saving much time and aggravation and benefiting both the community and MTA. Other efforts are underway to explore additional methods of school transportation with local governmental contacts.
Medical examiner protocols and interaction
AIMD has been successful at raising the bar of religious interaction with coroners and medical examiners in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Virginia and beyond. Policies that have been instituted in Maryland are the trend-setters for avoiding unnecessary autopsies, expediting the release of bodies detained at medical examiners facilities, and facilitating the performance of halachically-sensitive death examinations in a manner of the highest dignity and respect. To date, AIMD has successfully helped resolve several dozen cases involving Jewish decedents at medical examiners’ offices throughout the region.
Religious accommodation regulations and consultation
AIMD has played a vital role in the efforts to expand workplace accommodation laws for religious employees. To date, AIMD has been consulted on dozens of cases with community members facing problems with their employers and has provided guidance to navigate through the process. Recent outreach to the general counsel of Maryland’s Human Relations Commission has opened up improved avenues of interaction that will benefit community members when facing challenges in this area.
Voter registration and education
AIMD has been the community resource for all election related activities. This includes running biennial voter registration drives throughout the community and in several schools, as well as providing voting information and community-wide reminders and materials.
Baltimore City Public Works liaising
AIMD has been the community’s voice regarding legislation in Baltimore City that posed significant hardship on a multitude of families. The legislation was a part of the City’s goal in revamping its solid-waste collection policies. An AIMD report in July 2011 to the City Council led to the easing of standard trash collection restrictions for the neighborhoods encompassing the Baltimore Jewish Community.
Passport and Immigration assistance
AIMD has handled numerous passport assistance requests and immigration-related calls—several of which were resolved outright, with others handled with the assistance of staff members of federal officials.
Tax and legal compliance education
AIMD hosted and presented a seminar bringing together representatives from nearly all Baltimore-area non-profits (schools, shuls, organizations) and a number of Silver Spring entities as well, to discuss matters relating to non-profit tax compliance, parsonage, tax exemptions, and other pertinent issues.
Virginia – day school advocacy and religious protections
In 2012, AIMD was acknowledged by leading legislators as integral to the passage of the $20 million school choice tax credit bill, the EISTC (Education Improvement Scholarships Tax Credit) program, which is now providing significant support to Jewish day school students in both Richmond and Norfolk.
AIMD has successfully advocated on religious freedom issues such as autopsy regulations and protecting the role of decisions rendered by religious courts.
Pennsylvania – day school advocacy
Already home to the renowned scholarship tax credit, the EITC (Education Improvement Tax Credit), AIMD together with its co-partners on PA-CAPE (Pennsylvania chapter of Council for American Private Education) successfully advocated for a $20 million increase to the program’s annual allocation, to bring it up to $100 milllion. Additionally, PA-CAPE was vital to the passage of an additional school choice tax credit program, the OSTC (Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit) program, which passed in June 2012 expanding the funding and opportunities for students in the most vulnerable areas of the state.