Budget Hearings Commenced This Week

Budget hearings commenced Tuesday evening in Government Center and will continue throughout the week.


It’s likely a budget at 101% of net school spending will be approved by the Fall River City Council.


Chief Operating Officer Ken Pacheco discussed the lack of transportation contracts with the nine members and was asked this by Council Vice President Pam La-Libertie Lebeau.


"As for the transportation, I know we rescinded and just went out for a new bid. Do you know when we'll have those answers?"


Pacheco responded, "The bids will be due July 11th, if I'm not mistaken."


"Are we in any danger of not being ready for the beginning of the school year?" Lebeau inquired.


"If that schedule stays as is we're looking to have all awards in hand for August 1 after we do our due diligence and following the process of getting contract signatures. We're looking at August 1st," Pacheco answered.


At a charter-mandated session earlier in the year a placeholder number of $11.9 million for transportation costs was discussed. That figure was whittled down to $10.1 million but the city would like to see it closer to $9.3 million in fiscal year 2020.


In other news from the first budget hearing, Superintendent of Fall River Public Schools Doctor Matthew Malone indicated the district observed an important milestone over the Spring.


"We've tripled secondary language learners in three years,” he told the City Council. “The list, last week, was the first time in Fall River Public School history that we're now a majority minority school system.”


Malone said the numbers were essentially reversed.


“We flipped from 52-48 to 48-52,” he explained. “The largest of our second language speakers are Latino with most coming from Puerto Rico. We are also receiving large numbers of kids from Central and South America, as well."


Dr. Malone continued on talking about the overall budget figure of $160,662,776 approved by the School Committee earlier in the Spring and how the Governor influences it.


"In my third year of doing this, I propose a budget based on the Governors numbers - not at 100% but 101% of net school spending,” he explained. “It's important we're above the minimum foundation to fund schools. Each year, we take the same path forwards based on the Governor's Budget."


Depending on the final budget that incorporates proposals from both the Massachusetts House and the Senate, that figure could become larger when the Massachusetts budget for fiscal year 2020 later this Summer.