A Casper architectural firm will design an elevated walkway connecting the two buildings of the Natrona County High School, the school district's board of trustees decided Monday.

On Jan. 13, the board approved the $770,000 walkway project, a reversal of its previous vote in September to kill the project.

The board's infrastructure planning committee asked the trustees to have the district's staff negotiate a contract with Amundsen Associates for the walkway connecting the high school's main building to the Mustang Athletic and Community Center.

The district publicly advertised a request for proposal for the walkway and Amundsen Associates submitted the lone bid. The district's staff interviewed the firm on Feb. 20.

Existing State Capital Construction funds will pay for the project, according to the meeting agenda.

Trustee Angela Coleman cast the lone vote against the project on Monday.

In September, the trustees including board chairwoman Rita Walsh rejected the idea on a 5-4 vote after a contentious debate.

Casper Police Officer Charles Simons said then the bridge would enhance security at NCHS by reducing the school's access points from four to two. He's seen sex offenders in the area, drug deals and people passed out in the area between the two buildings.

Trustee Kevin Christopherson said he initially thought it was an extravagance, but said the bridge would save money in the long run, not counting the liability for the district if it knows snow and ice between the buildings will result in accidents.

But the opposition was more widespread, with trustee Dana Howie saying the state still anticipates a budget shortfall for education and the district needs to be cautious how it spends what it has.

Christopherson said after that vote the board would regret its decision.

In other project decisions Monday, the board approved a supplemental major maintenance project costing $100,000 for parent drop-off area on Ninth Street for Park Elementary School.

The board's infrastructure committee recommended, and the board approved, a list of proposed major maintenance projects for the 2021 fiscal year estimated to cost $4.5 million. These proposed projects will be presented to the State Facility Division on March 18 for approval. The district will not start the projects until the state approves the funding and the board formally approves them.

The proposed projects include $350,000 to replace the heating, ventilation and air conditioning controls system at Crest Hill Elementary School; $300,000 to improve the bus loop for enhanced safety at CY Middle School; and $1,741,000 for numerous projects at Paradise Valley Elementary School including replacing windows, the intercom system, installing a fire sprinkler system, and replacing the heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment.

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