Fall River school officials outline plan to use more than $900,000 in charter reimbursements

Date Published: 
November 7, 2014
Michael Gagne
News Type: 
School officials have a plan for how to use the additional $911,000 city allocation the district is receiving from an increase in state charter school tuition reimbursements for the current school year.

In a proposal presented to the School Committee’s finance subcommittee Thursday evening, school officials suggested the funding be used in various areas: to implement an extended school day at Fonseca Elementary School, cover an anticipated dramatic increase in heating costs at B.M.C. Durfee High School, place more paraprofessionals in elementary school classrooms and to upgrade the camera security system at Talbot Middle School.

The subcommittee voted unanimously to forward the spending plan to the committee as a whole, which will hold its next regular meeting Nov. 17 at Kuss Middle School.

Extending the school day at Fonseca would cost about $130,000 for half the year, according to the proposed spending plan. Starting during the second half of this current school year, the plan would allow the school day to expand by a half-hour each day. School officials said that half-hour would be added to the morning, meaning Fonseca’s school day would start earlier.

The expansion of the school day came at the request of Fonseca’s teachers, a group of whom appeared before the committee during its October regular meeting. At the time, committee members expressed support for the plan.

Teachers would use the additional 30 minutes to hold morning meetings with their students, explained Superintendent Meg Mayo-Brown.

Also in the spending plan is another $80,000 to cover an increase in student transportation costs to accommodate Fonseca’s new schedule, as well as $40,000 for a half year’s salary of a behaviorist/psychologist at the school.

Fall River schools Chief Financial Officer Michael Saunders told the subcommittee that utility costs at Durfee are expected to increase by nearly 50 percent. So the spending plan allocates an additional $116,000 to cover those expenses.

Another line item it budgets $11,000 to outfit Talbot Middle School with a new security camera system.

The plan also calls for 11 new paraprofessionals to be placed in schools, including at Greene and Silvia elementary schools. Those paraprofessionals would spend at least half a day in classes that have more than 30 students.

“We all know it. We all heard from principals, staff, parents about the need for additional support to reduce the ratio,” said School Committee vice chairman and subcommittee member Mark Costa, remarking on the plan. “We have to make sure we seize the opportunity to use these funds to do that, as long as I’m assured the issue of class size is going to get addressed. Without that, I don’t know if I can support this.”