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Hanley fires back

Refutes finger-pointing on grant

Dale Hanley (click for larger version)
July 19, 2009


SOUTHBRIDGE — It came down to the wire, but funding for the Southbridge Cops 'n Kids program came through.

After much confusion and delays in the process, $32,000 was released from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) early in July to keep the program, rolling through the end of the summer.

With the threat of the program's abrupt end looming less than a month ago, some parents of Southbridge students accused Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dale Hanley of being derelict in her responsibility to secure the grant.

According to Hanley, she and her staff dealt with this year's grant application the same has they had in the two previous years.

"We handled this grant — it's the third year — the way we have every single year," Hanley said on Friday.

"It starts in Sen. [Richard] Moore's [D-Uxbridge] office and it ends in Sen. Moore's office, we're jut a conduit for it," Hanley said, explaining that the grant, which is first applied for in the fall, expires at the end of the school year in June after which it has become common practice for Moore to secure the extension that allows the program to reach the next school year, when the process begins all over again.

On the Southbridge end, Hanley said Mary E. Wells Junior High School Principal Jason DeFalco and Police Sgt. Jose Dingui, one of the organizers of the program, wrote the initial grant application.

"Those two gentlemen did all the work they were supposed to do," Hanley said.

"There was no paperwork that the superintendent had to send," she continued, refuting claims that she did not send a key piece of the grant extension application to the proper authorities. "In fact the superintendent was pretty vigilant in calling the senator looking for the extension," she added.

The grant extension, which has typically been approved in April, did not get the go-ahead from Moore's office until just days before the summer portion of the program, which brings local youth and police officers together in a social atmosphere, was to begin.

"We had a lot of conversations trying to work out the details." Moore's Chief of Staff Sean Collins told reporters when the extension was granted.

Many of those conversations were with Hanley.

"The grant money came through in the 11th hour because I continued to speak to the senator's office and the state, almost daily, for the week and a half before the program started," she said. "We continued to be vigilant and actually Sen. Moore himself called me the Saturday before the program was to go into place and said he was able to get the Senate Conference Committee to appropriate the monies."

Hanley said at the conclusion of this session of Cops 'n Kids, also known as Beyond the Bells, the grant process will start anew.

"In the fall, we will apply again if the money is there. The Senator usually contacts the office and lets them know if the grant is available," Hanley said.

According to Collins, there is no funding in the fiscal year 2010 budget for the program, but that Moore would propose specific legislation to remedy the issue if that was the case when it came time to request the money.

"It's a great program," Hanley said of Cops 'n Kids, which not only provides children ages 10-15 with an outlet for physical activity, friendly competition and two meals a day courtesy of Worcester's Project Bread, but familiarizes young people with police officers and builds a comfort and trust that may not otherwise exist in their lives.

"It's an excellent program, both for mediation enrichment and activities for a lot of students," Hanley said.

According to Dingui, between 80-110 kids are registered for the summer session.

"I'm not sure what's going to happen with the grant next year," Hanley said. "But it's a very worthy program."

News staff writer Christopher Tanguay may be reached at (508) 909-4132, or by e-mail at ctanguay@stonebridgepress.com.

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