The state has worked with other school districts to help encourage minority hiring.
By RON COLE
VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The state cannot require contractors to meet minority and female hiring goals for the city school district's $163.5 million building project, the head of the Ohio School Facilities Commission says.
"We will work very cooperatively with the school district," said Randall Fisher, OSFC executive director. "In fact, we've had several meetings already to try to achieve some of the work-force goals.
"But, to make them requirements, we simply cannot do that."
The city school board approved a resolution Tuesday asking OSFC to require each contractor hired for the project to make efforts to give 20 percent of the work to minorities and another 20 percent to women. The resolution also asks that half of the workers be city residents.
Prohibited by law: Fisher, however, said state and federal law prohibits OSFC from requiring contractors to set aside a certain percentage of jobs for any particular group.
"If a company from California would come in and bid on one of our competitively bid projects and they're deemed to be responsible to do the work, there's nothing the state of Ohio or the school board can do about it," he said.
"The district knows that, and I understand their position to try to keep the dollars in Youngstown as much as possible and help the Youngstown residents. We're going to work with them to develop policies that would help those goals to be met."
For instance, Fisher said OSFC and East Cleveland City School District set up a program to help boost minority hiring in that district's $106 million facilities project.
Contractors were encouraged to select subcontractors from a school board-approved list made up mostly of local residents, Fisher said.
He said OSFC also recently received funds to hire a consultant to work with school districts on minority hiring programs.
Youngstown school voters approved a 4.4-mill tax issue in November to provide the $33.2 million local share of a $163.5 million project to overhaul the district's school buildings, including three new elementary schools and a new high school. OSFC provides $130.2 million. Construction begins next year.
Hiring goals outlined: The school district outlined the hiring goals during the bond issue campaign to gain support from the city's minority community.
Dissatisfied with progress toward minority participation, various minority groups last month announced a petition drive to repeal the tax issue.
Atty. Ron Miller, Youngstown Area Urban League president, said the petition drive continues. Mahoning County Board of Elections officials have said a bond issue cannot be repealed.
Miller said he has no comment about the school board's resolution to encourage minority participation or about Fisher's response.
"We're waiting to see," he said. "We want to see how the implementation takes place."