Schools provide value on maintenance, construction

To the editor:

Let me suggest where John Erlanger has it wrong, and why the community could support Clark County Question 2 for the schools (“Don’t reward school district’s mismanagement,” Oct. 19 letter to the editor).

After serving 20 years in the Navy Civil Engineer Corps, I now work as the Clark County School District’s head of facilities. I am a registered professional engineer, a certified energy manager and a certified green building engineer with a master’s degree in financial management, so I have some relevant experience.

I can say, with figures to back it, that the Clark County School District runs a tight ship and delivers tremendous value to taxpayers on capital and maintenance. The school district maintains schools at about half the cost of peer districts. The successful delivery of more than 200 new schools since 1986 has made the system’s capital program a model for other districts.

For years we have allowed either tilt-up or concrete-masonry unit construction to take advantage of fluctuations in pricing. We embrace the benefits of free market competition in the NRS 338, low-bid approach. Pre-engineered gyms and multi-purpose rooms can work for stand-alone spaces or add-ons, but not for prototype schools. To optimize building performance, it’s best to integrate the space with the building, especially since multiple systems, such as heating and air conditioning, sewer, etc., overlap. The Clark County School District does use pre-engineered buildings where appropriate, and my office occupies such a space.

We have delivered more than 100 prototype (“cookie cutter”) schools since 1998, with site adaptations. Even our highly flexible designs for career and technical academies are “cookie cutter,” with a broad menu of replication choices on a specific site.

Value engineering by a third party continues to be a regular part of all new major design projects. We also apply value engineering in other contexts as needed and anticipate achieving even more effective results in the future through broader use of the “construction manager at-risk” delivery method.

Mr. Erlanger objected to the continued existence of firms dating back to his own career, but it would be objectionable if rules were bent to award work to those firms. The school district is not doing that. Architectural selection is done, by law, on the basis of “most qualified,” so firms that succeed once are contenders the next time around. A recent selection was openly conducted with input from the architectural community and scrutiny from the Bond Oversight Committee.

I’m the least likely guy to endorse raising taxes. Nonetheless, entrusted to care for the public’s assets in the nation’s fifth-largest school district, I am compelled to ask for this minimal level of ongoing capital support, because I am aware of the unacceptable consequences if we fail to provide it. We should at least let the community decide Question 2 on a well-informed basis.

J.P. Gerner

Las Vegas

The writer is associate superintendent for facilities for the Clark County School District.

Prevailing wages

To the editor:

I am extremely disappointed that the Review-Journal is endorsing Question 2 (Sunday editorial), which would raise property taxes for school construction. In a bad economy, the last thing people need is a tax increase. Your own Sunday editorial noted that half of the additional tax money would be wasted due to prevailing wage laws.

A yes vote is a tacit endorsement of the status quo. Tax increases should be a last resort, but if they are indeed necessary, the taxpayers should get the full bang for their buck by first repealing the prevailing wage laws. Vote no on Question 2.

Mike Mathews

Las Vegas

GOP debt

To the editor:

Everyone is harping about President Obama being the cause of the national debt. Everyone thinks a Republican president will turn the tide. Let’s look at facts that anyone can verify at the U.S. Treasury website.

Look at Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush. In 12 years under these two Republican presidents, the national debt went from $900 billion to $4 trillion. Under Democratic President Bill Clinton, the national debt went from $4 trillion to $5.5 trillion, an increase of only $1.5 trillion in 8 years. Under President George W. Bush, it went from $5.5 trillion to $10 trillion, a near doubling of the national debt in eight years. Going further back, the national debt doubled under Nixon/Ford and went up only 20 percent under President Jimmy Carter.

Those who want a Republican savior for the national debt are dreaming. Please don’t delude yourself into thinking that Republican presidents are better stewards of the American tax dollar, because history proves you wrong.

Robert Bencivenga


Look west

To the editor:

The voting has begun. As a former Californian, I would ask Nevada voters to stand and look west before you vote.

Look west toward what was arguably one of the greatest states in the union. A state that now is on the verge of bankruptcy. A state that has decided to renege on contracts to those employees loyal to them.

A state that now attempts to raise taxes on the so called “rich” even though it will not solve their problems of excessive spending. A state that has the worst schools in the nation. A state that has been controlled by liberal Democrats for the past 30 years using the same philosophy as the current president.

If that is what you support, then vote for President Obama. I, as a former union president, will not.

John Stites


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