New idea to help kids with behavioral issues

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FARGO (WDAY) — In a joint effort between West Fargo and Fargo, plans are in the making for a first of its kind school designed to help students with behavioral issues.

The idea of a school setting that would concentrate on social, emotional and behavior skills has been thrown around for months between school boards.

But the assistant superintendents with the districts say the need has existed much longer.

“What we’re seeing is that kids just aren’t coming in with some of the skills on how to wait, how to take turns,some of the skills we’ve taken for granted,” said Rachael Agre, Fargo assistant superintendent.

It would be the only one in the area, and the state, that is aimed towards 6th grade students and under.

“It’s really happening with our students at a younger age. But we are seeing them as early as Kindergarten more regularly than we have in the past,” said Agre.

If both school boards approve the plan, part of Fargo’s Agassiz site will need to be remodeled. It’s a $4 million project that will add two classrooms and be split between each district.

The remodel would implement strategies to help calm and de-escalate students with things like more natural lighting, and sensory rooms for when they become overwhelmed

“For some students, noise, a lot of commotion, just activity in the lunchroom, can cause them to be anxious,” said Beth Slette, West Fargo assistant superintendent.

Collaboration between the schools, resources and wraparound services is what will make the idea a reality in the end.

“More minds come up with more solutions,” said Slette.

West Fargo’s School Board has already approved the plan for collaboration.

For Fargo it’s on to the planning committee with a vote expected in early May.

If approved, the first phase would accommodate up to 16 students for the fall of 2018.

A possible 2nd phase in 2019 could quadruple its capacity.

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