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Board agrees to move forward with Lewis and Clark design changes

Lewis and Clark Elementary students will be doing a double take when they walk into their school next fall. This summer, workers will alter the building's design - moving the kitchen and lunchroom to the library space and the library space to the...

Lewis and Clark Elementary students will be doing a double take when they walk into their school next fall.

This summer, workers will alter the building's design - moving the kitchen and lunchroom to the library space and the library space to the old small gym.

It was a safety issue, district officials said at Tuesday's Fargo School Board meeting, when they unanimously agreed to move forward with the project. That's because the kitchen and lunchroom weren't separate from the gym. Plus, the changes were long overdue.

"Right now, our gym doubles as a cafeteria, our library is too small, and our kitchen needs work, anyways," Lewis and Clark Principal Tricia Erickson said. "(This renovation) will start moving us in the right direction."

Board member Jim Johnson said the board will now need to approve contractor bids in the upcoming months before work begins this summer. But, he said, "This will be a pretty easy solution."

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The district estimates the project will cost $500,000 out of its annual maintenance budget. The rest of the $2.9 million budgeted for maintenance is expected to go toward general maintenance costs such as re-carpeting and window projects.

Other schools that the board is looking to renovate in the near future are Centennial Elementary and Discovery Middle School. Centennial is in need of a second gym. Discovery is in need of space for a cardio lab and fitness area. "We want to teach our kids to be fit all their life," Discovery Principal Linda Davis said, adding the dance team practices in the cafeteria and the wrestling mats don't fit in the wrestling room. "If we had this (extra room), we'd be able to expand and make it equitable with the rest of the middle schools."

One or both of these projects could be approved in the next one to three years, Johnson said.

In other board news:

- Board members were presented with the district's annual audit - a "clean" report without any compliance issues.

- Sexual orientation and religion were added to the groups protected in the school district's anti-discrimination policy.

- The board presented a "satisfactory" evaluation of Superintendent Rick Buresh - as required of all school boards to do before Dec. 15 by state law.

"It's very important to be very close to the heartbeat of the board," Buresh said, adding he's grateful for the positive feedback. "They've been a very supportive board to work with."

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515

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