Grand Forks Public Schools will use space in the Herald building for its student transitional education program, and staff could start moving in as early as mid-January.

The School Board voted 8-1 on Monday to approve a two-year lease agreement to use 2,163 square feet in the second floor of the building at 375 Second Ave. N. that houses newspaper staff. With a yearly rental rate of $30,282, the lease runs Feb. 1, 2018, through Jan. 31, 2021, with the option of renewing the lease at two-year increments.

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However, the school could move staff in as early as Jan. 17, according to the lease.

The price tag does not include common area maintenance and utility fees, which come in at $8,652 and $3,785, respectively, on an annual basis.

The space will be used for the district's student transitional education program, which is meant to help students who have special needs transition into traditional classrooms. The program has grown since first being implemented in 2014.

Grand Forks Schools has worked with the local Housing Authority to use space for free at the LaGrave Learning Center at 832 4th Ave. S., but the program has outgrown that space, said Tricia Lee, executive director of special education with the district.

The school district is the first to commit to a lease agreement since developers Mike Kuntz and Craig Tweten announced plans to turn the newspaper building into the Herald Communications Center. They are part of a group called Communication Central Building, which is seeking to fill the building with other tenants, including the city of Grand Forks and UND.

UND potentially could move some of its operations to the downtown building and use it for classrooms, events and student study rooms, President Mark Kennedy previously told the Herald.

The city is expected review a proposal that would allow it to move its planning department and the Metropolitan Planning Organization staff into the first floor of the Herald building.

Developers also have proposed using the building's first-floor community room for an e-library, which would function as a downtown branch of the Grand Forks Library and be connected to UND's library. The e-library would be open to the public.

Fargo-based Forum Communications Co., owns the Herald and the building. The Herald would continue to lease space in the building.

The Grand Forks Regional Economic Development Corp. already rents space on the first floor of the Herald and signed a five-year lease last year.