Black River Falls moving to $22.5 million referendum for new elementary building, renovations

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BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) - An area school district is asking for more than $22 million in tax money for construction and renovations.

The Black River Falls School District scheduled an informational meeting Wednesday about a referendum that would pay for a new elementary school building and renovate the high school.

The black river falls school district is asking for financial support, $22.5 million worth of upgrades, in an upcoming referendum.

A passing vote would pay for a new elementary school building to replace an aging one on Third Street.

“Right now, if a student is mobility impaired, they enter into the school and they can get to the lower level, which they have access to the gym, cafeteria, restrooms and 2 classrooms down there. But if they want to go anywhere else in the building … the office, any of those places, there are stairwells,” district administrator Shelly Severson said.

With a tax raise of $111 per year on a $100,000 home, Severson says, understandably, there has been some opposition.

“We've certainly heard an awful lot; it was good enough for me, why isn't it good now? And that's absolutely true. It's a beautiful facility; it has served our community very well for a long time. Education has changed. The demands for technology; just electrical current going to that building has gotten increasingly expensive,” she said.

The district failed to pass a referendum for a new elementary building back in 2009, but the district and school board are confident this vote, that also upgrades the high school office area, will be different.

“We decided to go a different route this time and involve the community very extensively by creating a task force,” board president Mary Jo Rozmenoski said.

“I think your benefit outweighs the cost in the long run because 3rd St. is in a pretty bad state and it's just safer in general,” Black River Falls High School graduate Hunter Shawley said.

“While we don't always need the newest shiniest thing, it is important to show that we do support education and we do recognize the importance of that in our community,” Severson said.

Others in the community said renovations were needed but not a new building, or that they needed to hear more before deciding whether to support it.

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