School District Formulates 23.5 Million Dollar Referendum

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The Black River Falls School District says the proposed 23.5 million dollar elementary school building project would drive property tax rates up one hundred dollars for an average 100 thousand dollar home, but the superintendent says the improvements are necessary.

"We are five levels,” a staff member describes Third Street School in Black River Falls. “Next year we're going to have a wheelchair child come in, and then a special apparatus to get the child up and down the stairs."

People who work at Third Street Elementary School tell us they're constantly improvising for access and extra space for the several hundred second and third graders in their crowded, eighty-year-old building, which they say has outdated electrical and plumbing systems.

"We don't have adult bathrooms in here in the building. We share the toilets with the kids,” she says.

Now the Black River Falls School Board is working on plans for a new elementary school, grades one through five, next to the Pre-K and Kindergarten Forrest Street Elementary School, consolidating how the school district currently is set up.

Under the proposal, the Third Street School and the district administration building next door to it will be closed and sold. Gebhardt Elementary School will also be closed and either sold or donated to the Town of Brockway for a community center.

"We have three elementary buildings: one for 4k through 1st grade, a 2nd through 3rd grade building and a 4th through 5th grade building,” says Superintendent Paul Blanford.

Even though the proposed building would cost 23.5 million dollars, Blanford says it's worth it.

"It will improve the learning environment for students. It would make cost efficiencies for the district, it would also reduce cost of transportation and other things as well,” says Blanford.

Blandford says the board didn't approve the 23.5 million dollar proposal at today's meeting.
He says that means the board members will likely take another look at a more cost-efficient proposal at their regularly-scheduled meeting next Monday at 6pm.

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