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North End Against Drugs leader: Students, not schools, should get scholarship checks

Posted by Roy Greene  February 13, 2012 12:09 PM

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To ensure scholarship recipients reap the benefits of their awards, North End Against Drugs President John Romano has proposed that scholarship checks go directly to students instead of to institutions.

At Wednesday’s monthly meeting at the Nazzaro Community Center, Romano said he was concerned that the current method of writing checks directly to schools was allowing schools to cut into financial aid offers at the college level.

“Instead of giving students $1,000, we’re giving the schools $1,000 and not really saving the students anything,” he said.

NEAD offers scholarships to college, high school, and grammar school students each year through the Raymond and Michelina Scholarship Program.

Romano said the amounts were still undecided for this year, though previous amounts were $1,000 for college students, $750 for high school students, and $500 for grammar school students.

The scholarship recipients are chosen through a lottery system. Scholarship applications become available each year in April, and recipients are announced in May.

The suggestion also prompted discussion of current policy, which only requires a letter of acceptance as proof of enrollment.

Many attending members felt that the scholarships should come with some type of stipulation to ensure recipients stay in school. Romano suggested giving half of the scholarship amount upon enrollment, and the second half the following semester. He recommended that these changes only apply to college students, where students were more likely to drop out.

After an unofficial vote, the board unanimously agreed to write checks directly to recipients, but remained undecided on whether to change the policy on the amount winners receive up front, or whether the changes should only apply to college students.

Romano and fellow board members Officer Ted Boyle, Al Vilar, Carl Ameno, and Laurie D’Elia supported the changes, but members Karen D’Amico, Olivia Scimeca, and Kathy Carangelo opposed splitting the award into halves.

“We don’t care if you’re an F student, or a D student, or an A student. So why should we hold back the money?” asked Scimeca, who has been a board member since 1996. “If you’re going to change [the policy] you should change it across the board.”

Also during the meeting, Romano made the suggestion to add more board members, particularly people with young children.

“When most of us started we had young kids, which was great,” he said. “But we need to get [more] people with kids now.”

According to Boyle, a board member since 1994, NEAD has a history of strong parental involvement.

“The best thing about the North End is that you get the parental help down here,” he said. “I won’t name neighborhoods, but you don’t always get that.”

Both measures are still up for debate and will not be voted on until next month’s meeting on March 14.

This article is being published under an arrangement between the Boston Globe and the Boston University News Service.

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