District seeks new learning space for students

GRAND FORKS, ND--The number of students with special needs continues to rise in Grand Forks.

That rapid rise means the district is outgrowing the space to properly educate them.

The LaGrave Learning Center is one place where kids in the student transitional education program or STEP learn.

They're usually referred to the center when a classroom environment isn't working out.

But with dozens of kids on those plans -- the district is looking for a new learning space for their students.

"We needed to address this bulging population now," said Superintendent, Dr. Terry Brenner.

Students needing a different place to study.

"Sometimes students struggle with large numbers of kids sometimes they struggle with large environments and the crowd. Sometimes kids get anxious about the environment that they're in," said Brenner.

The superintendent says these students feel more comfortable in a one-on-one setting with an adult.

The district hopes to move the program to empty space at the Grand Forks Herald building.

The school board is expected to vote on a 2 year lease for the space on Monday night.

"We'd be happy to respond to questions from other board members. Or if there might be general public if we're interested in the conversation would be happy to respond to those questions as well," said Brenner.

WDAY News spoke directly with parents concerned about the program keeping kids in a different space.

The superintendent says a STEP plan is used after other options have not been successful.

With input from parents -- school staff closely watch their progress.

"We look at reviewing those plans every 10 days to make sure that those plans are meeting the needs of students," said Brenner.

With the move set for the Herald building across the street from Central High School -- the transition back to the classroom could be a little easier for some kids.

"The goal always is to get them back into their home school or their neighborhood school."

If the school board approves the plan -- the Step Program could move in as early as next month.

Under the lease agreement, the school district could pay more than 30 thousand dollars to rent the space each year.

And to be transparent - Forum Communications - who owns WDAZ - also owns the Grand Forks Herald.