Black River Falls School District referendum passes

$22.5 million referendum for new school, renovations

Voters approved a $22.5 million Black River Falls School District referendum Tuesday. 

The referendum was approved with 61-percent of voters saying “yes” and 39-percent saying “no.”

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Tom Epps has taught in the Black River School District for 31 years. He said the quality of the school building doesn’t match the quality of the staff and students.

“It’s all about the kids, truly our kids do deserve better they deserve better than this building,” Epps said.

Third Street Elementary was built 90 years ago. Epps said the building has had every problem you’d imagine for being that old.

“I’m not saying we need a Taj Maj Hall, but this building has some needs that need to be dealt with and with a new referendum passing it would just be exhilarating to be in a new building,” Epps said.

And he might get his wish a new elementary school is part of a $22.5 million referendum on the ballot this fall for Black River Falls. Of that, 17.5 million would go towards a new elementary school. $4 million for renovations to the high school and $230,000 would help update security.

Some of the high school money would transform generic classrooms into more specialized rooms for biology, chemistry, and other subjects.

“They are not set up in lab environments and science is so much more engaging when it can be the hands on experiment,” Shelly Severson, PhD., Superintendent of the Black River Falls School District.

Most of the districts five schools have their main offices in the middle of the schools the money for security would change that.

“The office needs to front and center so we could see who ever is entering the buildings,” Severson said.

If voters say yes to the plan they will see an increase in the property taxes of $99 for $100,000, over a 20 year period.

Severson said she eliminated any plans to update the district building so the money will go right to the schools to help students like the ones in Mr. Epps class.

“We don’t come asking often and we don’t come asking for frivolous things and so hope that everyone recognizes that this is a very solid foundation of need.”