BLACK RIVER FALLS Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – An elementary school that was being renovated in Black River Falls was recently vandalized. Forrest Street Elementary School in Black River Falls was scheduled to finish renovations before the start of the school year on September 1st, but last week vandals damaged the building, delaying its 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.”

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

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

Until the building is professionally cleaned, the school cannot finish construction and that cleanup is anticipated to take 3-4 weeks.

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

As those decisions are being finalized, the superintendent says 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.”

The school says when the time comes, people can also help by moving supplies back into the building, but until then, staff say they really 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 that’s really typical of a lot of small towns that when a need arises, people will rally, and Black River Falls is fantastic at doing just that.”

The district says they hope to be back in the building by October. We reached out to the Black River Falls Police Department for any information on suspects, but the chief was not available.