The new policy, an outgrowth of Portland Public Schools’ Racial Educational Equity Policy approved last year, is the first of its kind for the school district. It also includes a unique component that ties contracting and purchasing to career learning opportunities for students.
“This is an important step for PPS to demonstrate its commitment to racial equity and draw from the entire community of businesses and contractors. This is about equity of access for qualified professionals,” said Martin Gonzalez, school board chairman. “It’s also a great opportunity to leverage public resources in the interest of students.”
Policy to benefit students
The policy has three primary goals:
• Increase the District’s contracting dollars spent with businesses owned by people of color, women-owned businesses and emerging small businesses.
• Boost the numbers of women and minorities in the construction trades through apprenticeship opportunities on school district public improvement contracts.
• See greater numbers of young women and young people of color in career learning programs.
The policy includes expectations that district contractors, particularly on larger contracts, create career learning opportunities with a focus on engaging students of color and young women.
“In addition to the economic impact on our community, our policy provides more opportunities for our students to gain career-related experience from successful professionals of all races and genders that contract with the school district,” said Superintendent Carole Smith.
Stakeholders provide feedback
PPS staff began working on the new policy in 2008. Since February, staff members have met with community stakeholders’ to ensure that the policy met their aspirations and incorporated that feedback into the draft policy. The school board heard a first reading of the policy June 25 and took testimony and voted 7-0 to approve the policy July 16.
Representatives from the Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs, National Association of Minority Contractors, the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber, Portland Workforce Alliance and the Coalition of Black Men testified in favor of the policy and offered guidance.
“The implementation of this policy is the key to success,” Gale Castillo, president of the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber, told the board. “I would encourage you to focus on communities of color and women. I would encourage you that given your (school construction) bond that you hope to have, that this is a big opportunity not only for PPS but for communities of color to have an economic opportunity.”
James Posey, former chairman of the National Association for Minority Contractors and former president of the Coalition of Black Men, called the policy “a real anchor in this community in terms of equity” and an opportunity to go beyond what other institutions have done.
Cost always considered in bid selection
Elaine Holt, program director of PPS Purchasing and Contracting, said that under the new policy, the goal of contracting with more minority- and women-owned firms and emerging small businesses will now be among key criteria the district looks at when hiring contractors.
“The school district, like all private and public agencies, considers several priorities when selecting the best contractor for a job,” Holt said. “Bidding price and the firm’s track record are always considerations and now diversifying our contractor base will be as well.”
District staff will present an implementation plan for the new policy to the school board in September.
Share news and events
Email your school or student-related stories and events to be featured online.
The Google translation of this page's content may not be completely accurate.