Stealing the welfare of students in Washoe County, Nevada

From article that begins on the front page of our local newspaper: “Two new middle schools, one in Sun Valley costing $85 million and another in Spanish Springs costing $80 million, will eat up the largest chunk of the bond. The remaining $34 million will go toward a new elementary school in the South Meadows area.

During the campaign to pass WC-1, new middle schools were estimated to cost about $55 million a piece, while elementary schools were projected at $23 million.”
A rather large jump in a rather short period of time? The bonding measure was passed in November 2016.  As I recollect, the main proponents of WC-1 were representatives of the kind of big construction companies that will have to be hired to build the schools. Who now is projecting cost increases amounting to 40% more than projected during the campaign to pass the measure? I have to believe it is these very companies.
When the campaign for WC-1 was being waged, I questioned the motives of those pushing hardest for its passage, not because I have any doubts as to whether new buildings are needed, but because I knew that these same people, over the years, were more likely than not to be opponents of measures intended to raise teacher salaries or cut student to teacher ratios, measures critical  to attracting the best and brightest and insure that the conditions of work were reasonable in respect to legitimate goals for education in a democratic society.
I asked repeatedly if it could be true that WC-1’s main supporters might be acting selfishly, whether their claims of wanting what was good for the community was outweighed by their desires to increase corporate profits. So, being of this frame of mind, I wonder how it could be that the cost of building the buildings that are to be paid for with WC-1 funds has risen so in such a short period of time.
If those increased costs reflect increases in the cost of such things as material and labor, those increases cannot be limited to only that which affects the building of buildings. If the general cost of thing has risen so, then this would have to be reflected in the cost of living for all who reside in places affected by such inflation and this would be reason for across the board increases in salaries and wages. In the realm of education, as far as I can tell, there are few in the business community, in the building business, clamoring for 40% pay raises for teachers. I doubt if they would support 10% increases.
So, is it really that the jump in cost reported reflects increases in costs to builders building the buildings or something else? And if it is something else, a 40% rise in less than 11 months for building what the builders fought to have build with tax payer’s money, should be treated with at least some suspicions. I am a lot suspicious. Remember that WC-1 explicitly prohibits that funds raised be used for anything other than the building of buildings, that the argument made for the need to build buildings to cut down on school overcrowding never included argument for hiring and retaining (salary and conditions of work count here) teachers or for reducing students to teacher ratios despite the fact that a good many teachers are forced to work with impossibly high numbers of students, impossibly high if quality of instruction is a concern.
Of the local newspaper, the Reno Gazette-Journal, I ask why it is that the article reporting the increased costs for the WC-1 projects is titled “WCSD: WC-1 may generate $955M” and not “Cost of Building Schools Rises Precipitously” and why it is that the article at no point raises questions as to why this might be so. The discussion of the rise in the cost of building is withheld for the portion of the article that appears in the back pages, not on the front page where the “good news” regarding increased bonding capacity is reported.
I am suspicious. Maybe others should be too? Or maybe I am just being paranoid and all that is being done, all that is happening in regard to WC-1 is really for the best, in the best interests of students and our community.

By lafered

Retired professor of education concerned with thoughtfulness

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