A group of private school students and parents descended on Legislative Hall in Dover March 30 to encourage legislators to oppose state budget cuts that would affect their institutions.


A group of private school students and parents descended on Legislative Hall in Dover March 30 to encourage legislators to oppose state budget cuts that would affect their institutions.

In his recommended budget, Gov. Jack Markell has proposed eliminating funding for private school bus stipends, school nurses and driver education courses.

The cuts, he said, are necessary to preserve education dollars for public schools.
Students clad in blue slacks and plaid jumpers went door to door in the building offering legislators and staff pencils emblazoned with the ad hoc group's slogan, "Fairness for Private School Children."

Newark parent Bonnie DiMichele, whose children attend St. John the Beloved and Salesianum schools in Wilmington, said the funding cuts put an undue burden on private schools.

"It's not a Catholic school versus public school issue," she said. "It's an issue of having equality for all children."

DiMichele said she and the other parents who came to Dover are representing their own views, not necessarily those of school administrators or the Catholic Diocese.

Jennifer Ranegan, mother of two St. John the Beloved students, said private schools actually save the state money by reducing the number of students taxpayers have to support in public schools.

She also said Markell's proposed cuts to driver education, fly in the face of state requirements.

"It's a state-mandated course," she said. "It could cost us almost $400" to pay for a student's driver education.

Rep. Joe Miro, R-Pike Creek Valley, met recently with private school parents and urged them to bring their case directly to the General Assembly.

Miro, who serves on the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee, said he's committed to restoring the funding, particularly for nurses.

"What I'm trying to do is make sure we restore the money for the nurses," he said. "They are the first line of defense for families."

State law, Miro added, requires that any medication given to a student in school must be administered by a licensed medical professional.

Miro said he's confident the votes are there to preserve the nursing funds, and possibly money for buses and driver education.

"I'm going to lead the fight," he said.

Email Doug Denison at doug.denison@doverpost.com.