Construction of the new Durfee High gets a ceremonial start
Kevin P. O'Connor
Herald News Staff Reporter
FALL RIVER — Groundbreaking ceremonies seldom involve breaking ground.
Thursday was no exception. A new B.M.C. Durfee High School is under construction. Ground was broken in late August. Trees were felled, fences were erected, and granite boulders were pounded into pebbles. So at the official groundbreaking for the project, officials lined up at a long box filled with sand to wield shiny shovels, decorated with bows of Durfee red, to throw the sand into the air, more or less in the direction of the cameras. That got accomplished. There is more work to do.
Suffolk Construction has blocked off the athletic fields and tennis courts north of the current Durfee to begin site work on the 501,000-square-foot school that will cost $263.5 million before it is finished in September of 2021. Voters agreed to pay $98.5 million for the project. The state of Massachusetts School Building Authority will pay $165 million. Just getting to that point took a lot of work, said Superintendent Matthew Malone.
“Today we recognize the hard work of a generation of people to bring this to pass,” Malone said. Mayor Jasiel Correia II praised the voters who approved the bond issue that made the project possible. “How did we get here,” he asked. “How did we get to the point where we have almost $300 million to build a new school?”
The city’s support for education and the help of the MSBA made it possible, he said.
Jack McCarthy, the executive director of the MSBA, said the city’s legislative delegation began lobbying him on behalf of Durfee five years ago.
“They have been working on me and beating me up until I finally said yes,” he said.
But building a school is just the start, McCarthy said. The MSBA operates with a core belief, he explained. “A school is four walls with tomorrow inside,” he said.
Durfee senior Catarina Pereira echoed that while thanking city voters for approving the funding for the school. “To see new students coming in to learn in such a great environment is really heartwarming,” she said.