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Published: Thursday, 1/27/2005

Report: TPS not meeting project quotas

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Toledo Public Schools' plan to include minority and female contractors in its $821 million construction program could face significant problems in future phases of the project, according to a report released yesterday.

The school district hired the Northwest Ohio Black Chamber of Commerce in July to monitor the construction program's "inclusion plan."

So far, the chamber has found that large construction companies are not living up to promises of using minority subcontractors, said Doni Miller, chairman of the TPS minority enterprise subcommittee.

"The project is in its first phase, with a fairly limited scope of work undertaken," Ms. Miller said. "It is clearly apparent, however, that there are significant problems on the horizon which, if left unaddressed, will greatly impact the district's plan for inclusion of more minorities and women in the building project."

The report by the chamber also found that several firms have done "little to comply with the good faith effort requirement" of inclusion, she added.

One such firm, Lake Erie Electric of Bowling Green, has been awarded four contracts. A representative from the company did not respond to several phone calls seeking comment.

The school district is paying up to $70,000 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.

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.

Karen Ashford, chief executive officer of the chamber, said the group was not seeing much minority and female inclusion in the general trades.

Toledo Board of Education President Larry Sykes said the contractors would be scrutinized and brought into compliance with the plan.



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