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Published: Thursday, 7/8/2004

Group to track TPS project hiring

The Northwest Ohio Black Chamber of Commerce will monitor the Toledo Public Schools' $821 million construction project to ensure that goals are met for minority and female inclusion of owners of contracting firms and employees, district officials said yesterday.

"We anticipate signing [the chamber contract] within the next couple days and pulling together the appropriate members from the oversight committee and the new monitoring board," said Dan Burns, the district's chief business manager.

The district will pay up to $70,000 during the next year for the monitoring program, which will include chamber visits to construction sites, interviews with contractors, documentation of the number of minority and female business owners who are contractors or subcontractors on the project, and the recording of the percentage of minority, female, and Toledo school district residents working as employees on the project.

"We're anxiously waiting to get started," said Karen Ashford, chief executive officer of the chamber. "We will do the assessments of what's going on on the job sites and report directly to the board and the community."

According to district records, minority-owned firms should comprise 20 percent of any contracts over $250,000, and female-headed companies should make up 5 percent of those. In addition, the goals for workforce composition are 20 percent minority, 5 percent female, and 25 percent district resident.

The district's contractors must provide a plan for reaching the goals for community inclusion with their project bids, Mr. Burns said. The new monitoring board will monitor compliance.

"If some of those firms didn't meet that goal, I want to make sure we know that before we sign any more contracts with them," said board of education President David Welch. "If they didn't do what they said they would, we can use that in the future against them."

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