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Glendening says private-school aid is unlikely


Gov. Parris N. Glendening said yesterday that there wouldn't be a "great deal" of state aid to private schools, despite an aggressive lobbying effort by Catholic school parents that brought 6,500 letters to his desk this fall.

But contrary to televised reports that Glendening was dismissing the pleas, the governor's spokeswoman, Torrie Leonard, said his position "is not an out-and-out 'no.' He said it's not likely because of a very tight budget."

The governor's staff is still working on the draft of a reply to the families who wrote asking for money for transportation, textbooks and technology in next year's budget. Those letters will be going out by the end of the week, said Leonard.

But before the letter is made final, the governor intends to call Cardinal William H. Keeler of Baltimore -- who is in Jerusalem -- along with Cardinal James Hickey of Washington and Bishop Michael Saltarelli of Wilmington, Del.

"I think basically what he wanted to do was give them a heads-up, to let them know we're in the letter-writing process," Leonard said.

The spokeswoman said Glendening was too busy to return phone calls yesterday, and his staff refused to release the draft of the still-unsigned letter.

Leaders of the letter-writing campaign said they had not heard from the governor and knew only what they were being told by reporters.

But archdiocesan officials expressed disappointment that the governor was not leaning more favorably toward their requests.

"If the answer is no, then the governor needs to understand we will become more vocal, more aggressive," said Ronald J. Valenti, superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Baltimore. "We have made our point known. You just can't dismiss it by saying there's no more money."

Valenti and archdiocesan spokesman Bill Blaul said the Maryland Federation of Catholic Schools, which organized the parents, would take its case to the legislature.

"This is not a money issue. If that's what he said, he hasn't read the letters close enough," said Blaul, who responded in place of Keeler. "This is an education issues."

Even as the governor expressed his indecision about the aid, a group representing Jewish parents in Baltimore and Washington schools delivered petitions to him with more than 1,800 signatures in support of it.

Pub Date: 12/18/96

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