It’s been four months since the Natrona County school board voted down a $770,000 effort to build a bridge at Casper’s west side high school. But a committee moved Thursday to put the proposal back on the table.
The plan as pitched by its supporters on the board is to build a sky bridge that links the main Natrona County High School building with its athletic complex. The goal is to keep more students indoors, instead of having them walk outside between the buildings. Supporters say it’ll both increase security, save staff and student time, and keep students out of the cold.
A similar effort was narrowly defeated in September, in a meeting that saw the board approve a $10 million project to build NC its own pool. But a school board committee approved another proposal to build the bridge, a plan that will go before the full board later this month.
The crucial difference this time, board members said, is that the money for this project will come from leftover capital construction dollars that were set aside for NC anyway. The school underwent significant renovations in recent years, and this money is what remains of the funding for that construction.
The previous plan that was voted down by the board called for the use of school security funding. Critics noted that there was a long list of security projects across the district and that NC students weren’t the only ones who have to deal with the cold (though they’re likely the most consistently affected in the district, other than students walking to and from schools).
It’s unclear if this plan will be more palatable to the members of the board who opposed the first bridge attempt, a group that includes the board chairwoman, Rita Walsh. In any case, it’ll be up for board approval later in January.
The exact costs for this particular plan aren’t yet known. Because the board would be using state dollars instead of internal funds, the district would have to follow the state protocol. That means the board will vote to approve an architect and then vote to approve a contractor to do the building. Previously, it was more of a packaged effort.
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