Fall River’s Catholic and Public School Leaders Come Together To Serve Children
Working together, Fall River’s Catholic and public school leaders have developed an effective model to serve Catholic school students with diverse learning needs. This public/private partnership has emerged as an exemplar for districts and faith-based schools from across the Commonwealth and throughout the nation.
This new model leverages relationships, communications, and public resources to provide much needed services to Catholic school students. For the second year in a row, the Fall River Public School District, only one of two districts in the State, received $25,000 in special education funding from the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. This grant augments the district’s IDEA (Federal Special Education funding) and ESSA (Federal Title dollars) funds which they receive annually to serve both public and faith-based students. This year’s additional $25,000 will be utilized to provide Catholic school students with speech and language services at the 6 Catholic schools starting in the New Year. Espirito Santo Parochial School Principal, Andrew Raposo, remarked;
“This grant will enable our Catholic school students to access much needed services. Moreover, this new strategic partnership begins to break down the artificial wall that has separated Catholic and public schools for decades. It is critical that all of our schools be child-centered. What is in the best interest of the child- not what is in the best interest of a school should drive our policy decisions!”
In addition to the speech and languages services, thirty-three Fall River Catholic Kindergarten – Fifth Grade teachers will receive professional development in Math content from Looney Math Consultants through this IDEA funding stream. Kindergarten – Second Grade teachers will take a course on “Foundations in Numbers”, while Third – Fifth Grade teachers will take “Developing Number Sense”. These courses will equip teachers to effectively deliver content and differentiate their lessons to meet students where they are at as they build the foundation of their math knowledge. These courses also build on the Instructional Coaching Fall River Catholic School teachers received from Looney Math Consultants last year also through federal funding.
The Catholic Schools Office and principals are grateful to Fall River Public Schools Superintendent Matt Malone, Executive Director of Special Education and Student Services Lisa Moy, and Title Fund Coordinators, for their willingness to work with us to ensure that every student has access to the services they need to succeed. We will continue to work with Fall River and other public school districts to increase the availability of Special Education services to students in our Catholic schools.