Fall River to vote in special election on funding new Durfee High School

FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — Fall River taxpayers will vote in early March on whether to move forward with plans to build a new Durfee High School, which has struggled with structural concerns for years.

A special election is scheduled for March 6, with the proposed new school costing the city more than $263 million.

Mayor Jasiel Correia said Fall River is ready for a new high school.

“The school is literally falling apart,” Correia said. “You walk the halls of Durfee High School and again it has outlasted its useful life.”

PHOTOS: Flooding at Durfee H.S. »

A few weeks ago, the high school sustained severe water damage after an estimated 50,000 gallons of water leaked out through a burst pipe. Officials said aging pipes were blamed for the flooding. Other than the pipes, school officials said they have also had problems with the roof and windows.

“We had a flood which was an unfortunate event, that was obviously unpredictable, but just continues to show the aging infrastructure that is there,” Correia said. “That flood really destroyed many of the science classrooms.”

Correia said the Commonwealth would pay for almost 65 percent of the cost to build the new school, leaving the remaining balance around $95 million for Fall River to cover.

“It is just going to be a state of the art school with all the bells and whistles, but still at an affordable price for our community,” Correia said. “While other communities are looking for tax overrides that will cost taxpayers $200-$300 a year, our school we’re looking to hopefully be at $100 or less a year, that is kind of our target we might be at $110 or $120 a year annually as a payment for a school.”

Correia said there will be several special city council meetings to provide more information about the project to the public. If approved, construction could begin as early as next year.