FARGO — The addition to Lewis & Clark Elementary School for Fargo school district students with behavioral challenges will take another step forward after a Tuesday night, Feb. 11, school board meeting.

The school board agreed unanimously to hire Construction Engineers of Fargo to be the construction manager for the project in south-central Fargo.

Along with YHR Partners architectural firm of Fargo, the construction managers will work with school officials on the final design of the building in the coming months, Superintendent Rupak Gandhi said after the meeting.

The company will be paid 5.25% of the total project cost. There were two other bidders that school officials interviewed face-to-face for the project, but they rated Construction Engineers highest for their work on similar projects, past performance on public projects and qualifications of team members.

Gandhi said bids will likely be accepted for the project, which the board hopes to get done for under $11.8 million, this spring or early summer, with work hopefully starting in July.

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The Explorer Academy at Lewis & Clark will be designed as a school within a school, allowing students who receive "Level D" services to have access to the general education population, according to the district.

There is currently no separate setting in the area for elementary students with more extreme behaviors. Students with disabilities, including autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and emotional disturbance disorders, are generally educated alongside peers without such disabilities.

The specially designed academy will provide additional behavioral health services to students as part of a K-8 educational facility with a focus on science, technology, engineering, art and math.