- Diman Regional Voc-Tech
- School Building Committee
- Module 1 - Eligibility Phase
- Module 2 - Forming the Project Team
- Module 3 - Feasibility Study
- Module 4 - Schematic Design
- Module 5 - Funding the Project
- Module 6 - Detailed Design
- Module 7 - Construction
- Module 8 - Completing the Project
- Educational Planning/Visioning Sessions
- Public Forum Videos
The new Diman has state funding. Next, Greater Fall River residents will get to weigh in.
A rendering shows the view of the proposed new Diman from Locust St. in Fall River. From Kaestle Boos Associates
A rendering of a student commons inside the proposed new Diman building. From Kaestle Boos Associates
A rendering of the proposed new Diman School building. From Kaestle Boos Associates
The Herald News
FALL RIVER — Now that Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School has secured state funding for a new building, proponents are stepping up their efforts to encourage residents to support the project.
“They have now made the cut,” said Sally Cameron, who’s working with a private outreach committee that formed to garner local support for the project.
In December, the Massachusetts School Building Authority announced it would reimburse Diman up to $145,772,694 for a new school. School officials have placed the project’s total cost at about $293 million.
Advocates for the new building say the current Diman is too small to meet modern educational needs and that renovating and expanding the aging building would likely cost even more than building a new school. The new Diman would be designed to have lifespan of 50 years.
Diman Outreach Committee efforts
The outreach committee, a 5013c nonprofit that is run independently of the regional school district, has launched a website, Facebook and Instagram to help answer questions residents might have about the need for the new building and its impact on member communities.
From 9 a.m. to noon on Sunday, Feb. 6, the committee is planning to hold an outreach event at H&S Tool and Engineering in Fall River to pass out yard signs and bumper stickers and answer questions about the project.
“The outreach committee knows that the towns and city need to step up and help fund this project and take advantage of the up to $145 million,” Cameron said.
How much will each town pay?
Diman’s sender communities – Fall River, Somerset, Swansea and Westport – will be tasked with paying for what the state won’t cover.
The district’s regional agreement requires that Fall River pays about 76% of the district’s costs, Somerset pays approximately 9%, and Swansea and Westport pay about 8% and 5%, respectively. Those proportions will also apply to funding the new building project.
Dr. Elvio Ferreira, Superintendent of the Greater Fall River Vocational School District, said they anticipate a 30-year debt cycle for money borrowed to fund the project.
While it’s too early to tell exactly how much each community will end up paying, Ferreira said, they have estimates based on projects and current interest rates. Fall River will likely pay $6.5 million per year for the life of the debt, with a tax burden of an extra $69 per year for every $100,000 in home value. Somerset will likely pay about $825,000 each year, or $26 in property taxes per $100,000 in home value. Swansea and Westport would pay $710,000 and $445,000 per year with an impact of $25 and $11 per $100,000 in home value, respectively.
Sender communities will have to decide this spring whether funding the project will entail a debt override, allowing localities to raise property taxes beyond the state-imposed limit of 2.5% each year.
What comes next?
This spring, town residents will be asked to approve their town’s funding for the project in both town meetings and local elections. In Fall River, the City Council must approve the project. If a debt exclusion is needed, Fall River residents would vote on it in a city election.
Ferreira said that, if a sender community fails to approve the plan, the district will utilize a portion of state bylaw that allows regional school districts to hold a district-wide vote on the project instead.
On Feb. 14, Somerset will hold a special town meeting for residents to sign off on the district moving forward with its plan, separate from the vote on town funding in the spring. Towns are not required to hold such meetings but are allowed to do so.
“It’s an opportunity for Town Meeting to decide if they want to go forward with this or say no,” said Michael Gallagher, Somerset’s Acting Town Administrator. “The Board (of Selectmen) felt it was right to give people a say.”