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Durfee students need a better environment, but can homeowners afford it?



Fall River voters head to the polls today to determine if the city will be able to get a proposition 2 1/2 override/debt exclusion to help fund a new Durfee High School. While there isn’t much debate that something needs to be done about the current situation for students at the school, the solution among residents varies.

Despite the numbers and the fact that the MSBA refuses to fund repairs due to the building’s condition, some feel it is better to just repair the current school. Many feel a new school is needed, but disagree on how to pay for it.

There is a large group of homeowners who are at the point where they feel they can’t be taxed one more dollar. Residential tax rates in the city have risen dramatically over the past 10-15 years and in a city where many are scraping to get by, they want to know where their money has been going. Despite the sharp increase, Fall River ranks only 204th in the state for residential taxes. Commercial tax rates , however are in the top 20 across Massachusetts. Those figures don’t matter much though to homeowners on fixed incomes.


There is no question that the students of Fall River deserve a better high school. Not only in learning conditions, but for safety reasons. The amount of outside school doors make the building more susceptible to the unthinkable. Despite the threats being unfounded, we have gotten a taste of that reality in recent weeks. The lack of sprinkler systems at the school puts the future homeowners of Fall River at risk as well. There are leaks everywhere. Issues with heat, air conditioning, windows, and the foundation make it far from an ideal learning environment. The design of the current school made it a disaster before it opened which makes it no wonder that people went to jail over the result. The question is, are property owner’s backs about to break and if that happens, what happens next?



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