Black River Falls School vandalized, delaying the building’s start date

Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 6:59 PM CDT
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BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) - Forrest Street Elementary in Black River Falls was vandalized on August 10, delaying the building’s start to the school year.

Forrest Street Elementary was scheduled to finish renovations before the start of the school year on September 1, but now the building will have to miss the anticipated opening date.

“Initially, we thought it was destructive and challenging, but we really didn’t realize the full scope of the cleanup work that was going to have to happen,” Dr. Shelly Severson, Superintendent of the School District of Black River Falls said.

Fire extinguishers were set off in the building, releasing chemicals corroding the metal and technology in the building. District staff said this is really upsetting.

“To be honest, our staff just feel like this is a personal violation, they feel like this is a personal violation, and at the youngest learners, right? So, it wasn’t even a personal vendetta,” Severson said. “It just felt like senseless violence.”

Until the building is professionally cleaned, the school cannot finish construction and that cleanup is anticipated to take three to four weeks.

“We really anticipate that Forrest Street will start school right after Labor Day,” Severson said. “We don’t yet know where the location is. We are looking at bringing in portable classrooms, a combination of those, plus perhaps the Lunda Community Center, perhaps some churches, all of that.”

As those decisions are being finalized, the superintendent said there is something the community can do.

“Right now, people that want to help, we appreciate the support and I’ve told them if you really want to help, reach out to an educator and share your appreciation with them,” Severson said.

The school said when the time comes, people can also help by moving supplies back into the building. But until then, staff said they appreciate the community support.

“I sent in a message out to our staff yesterday, don’t ever doubt where the hearts of the community are because they will do anything to help and I think that’s really typical of a lot of small towns, that when a need arises, people will rally,” Severson said. “Black River Falls is fantastic at doing just that.”

The District said they hope to be back in the building by October. Additional questions about the situation can be sent to Dr. Shelly Severson at or the Forrest Street Elementary School Principal Melanie Floyd at

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