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November 24, 2014

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Roofer super’s super riches: Bigger bucks than boss

Clark County Schools Superintendent Walt Rulffes: $290,000

Senior Counsel Bill Hoffman: $146,032

Deputy Superintendent Lauren Kohut-Rost: $134,080

Roofing shop supervisor, Danny Hurd: $133,748*

Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey Weiler: $131,280

Associate Superintendent George Ann Rice: $122,340

Associate Superintendent of Facilities Paul Gerner: $113,316

School District Police Chief Hector Garcia: $107,916

Starting salary for first-year School Police officer: $38,986

Starting salary for first-year teacher: $33,000

Danny Hurd has got to love that overtime pay. You might say it went through the roof.

His boss, who is in charge of facilities for the Clark County School District, makes $113,748 a year.

Hurd, the roofing shop supervisor, earned $133,748 last year, thanks to nearly $59,000 in overtime.

Paul Gerner, associate superintendent of facilities, says he doesn't begrudge Hurd a dime.

"Anybody who thinks Danny's overpaid should spend a couple of hours working on the roof of one of our schools in the hot summer sun," Gerner said. "Then come back and complain."

Hurd, 55, said he knows there have been grumblings about his paycheck.

"It's a little frustrating," Hurd said. "The bottom line is the roofs don't leak, and we don't have to go back and do repairs. That's partly my good work."

With the exception of Hurd's extra work hours, the district's most recent internal audit of overtime costs was unremarkable.

"The roofing department was the only one where we thought, 'Gee, this person is getting a lot in overtime,' " said Keith Bradford, assistant superintendent of business and financial services. He also makes less money than Hurd.

The audit triggered a meeting with the bosses and the bean counters.

Randy Shingleton, facilities director for the district, said the overtime was necessary to complete a three-year-old roof resealing project at nearly 100 schools. A new sealant was showing excellent results at protecting and insulating the buildings - and had to be applied while a roof's original surface was still in acceptable shape.

To get all the work done, Hurd and his crew worked 12-hour days, six days per week, with occasional Sunday shifts. Hurd works alongside his people, fixing tiles, spreading sealant, repairing leaks.

The district initially allocated $500,000 for the sealing project, and then threw another $1 million into it because of the long-term roof-replacement savings. But there weren't enough employees in the roofing shop to complete the projects without overtime.

"I had guys willing to step in and work," Shingleton said. "It would have cost me more to contract the job out."

So the criticism of the roofing crew's overtime by the auditors rankled.

"We were told, 'Hey, here's some extra money, go out and do all this stuff,' " Shingleton said. "Then we get it all done, and instead of saying, 'Hey, great job, thanks for doing it,' they ask why did we use all this overtime. And it's like, 'Hey, aren't these the same people who gave us the money to do it?' "

The math seemed simple: Applying the sealant to the roof of Silverado High School cost $106,000, which included all materials, labor and overtime. If the roof had continued to deteriorate and needed to be replaced, the price tag would have been $550,000.

The district's business and finance services department, eager to continue the sealing project but also anxious to reduce the overtime, offered to pay for another crew of roofers. Shingleton said he's in the process of hiring the new workers.

Gerner has tried to persuade Hurd to sign up for fewer overtime hours, without success.

"We can't get him off the roof - the guy doesn't have a life," Gerner said with a laugh.

Hurd does have a life. It includes his wife of 33 years, three grown daughters and four grandchildren, three of whom are students at Robert Taylor Elementary School. Hurd graduated from Basic High School in 1969. When he does come off the roof, he heads for the softball field or his garage, where he restores vintage muscle cars.

Hurd began his district career as a gardener nearly 34 years ago and worked his way up - way up - to the roofs. Until about three years ago, when Gerner took over as facilities chief, most of Hurd's time was spent fixing leaks. There was little preventive maintenance, which frustrated Hurd.

One of his first meetings with his new boss took place on a roof. Hurd brought Gerner to an elementary school to show how the coating was as rippled and cracked as an alligator's hide.

When Hurd began in the roofing shop nearly 20 years ago, there were 26 employees and 115 campuses. Until recently, because of budget cuts, Hurd had just 14 workers to handle 325 schools as well as other district facilities. Four new roofers started Monday, and Hurd's hoping two more positions will be filled soon. He wants the new hires to focus on preventive maintenance, including routine inspections and cleanings. By the time a problem progresses to a leak, it's usually too late for a speedy or inexpensive repair, Hurd said.

"It sounds corny, but it's really about the kids," said Hurd, explaining his willingness to embrace long hours of physical labor. "I'm probably retiring in a couple of years. I'd like to see the roofs completed before then. This has been a pet peeve of mine for a long time."

The pace has slowed somewhat in the past few months - the 12-hour days are now worked just five days a week. The relatively lighter workload is expected to continue as the new workers come on board.

"On the one hand it's cheaper for us generally to do overtime than to hire another employee (and pay benefits and salary)," Gerner said. "But we do worry that our guys are burning themselves out at this kind of pace."

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