CITY SCHOOLS Boles sets minority hiring deadline
The city official said he is considering lawsuits against contractors and unions.
By JoANNE VIVIANO
VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- City Councilman Clarence Boles has given contractors on city schools construction projects a new ultimatum.
He wants 10 minorities, females or city residents given six-month labor positions or he and his supporters will halt construction on the new Harding Elementary School on the city's North Side, he said during a press conference at the Harding site Monday.
"This is what we want to see right now," said Boles, D-6th. "This school will not open on time if we do not see some movement in the hiring."
If the ultimatum is not met by July 12, Boles said, he and other members of the community will move to shut down the Harding project. Boles would not elaborate on how that would be accomplished, but said lawsuits are a possibility.
The announcement is the latest step in a campaign Boles is waging to persuade contractors on city schools construction projects to meet the school district's goals of having 20 percent minorities, 20 percent women and 50 percent district residents on job sites.
Boles, who was a school board member until January, is now chairman of the city council education committee. He said no contractors or union representatives have contacted him since he first held a press conference on the matter June 11.
The district is in the midst of a $200 million facilities project that will rebuild or renovate 15 schools. Contractors hired have agreed to make a "good faith effort" to meet the goals.
Harding was originally slated to open in September, but construction is about one month behind schedule, said Steven L. Ludwinski of Heery International Inc., the firm managing the construction project.
District numbers show that 11 percent of Harding workers are minorities, 10 percent are city residents and there are no women; at the new Taft Elementary on the South Side, 20 percent are minorities, 32 percent are district residents and one percent are women. At West Elementary, 17 percent are minorities, six percent are residents and there are no women.
School district spokesman M. Mike McNair pointed out that the district's goals are the first of their kind in this area.
"All these efforts are efforts that have never been done before," he said. "These are efforts to move us in the right direction. Nobody else is doing it."
Among those showing Boles support was LaVerne Dennis -- a minority, a woman and a city resident -- who first approached the school district about a job in April 2003.
Dennis, mother of three Youngstown schoolchildren, said she was laid off from the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center on Hubbard Road in 2000 and has struggled to find work since, surviving on child support payments and food stamps.
"To hell with welfare," she said. "I want to fare well. I want to work so I can take care of my children."
Dennis is among about 320 names of people ready to go to work that appear on a list prepared by the district and submitted to contractors. According to the district's list, Dennis was referred as a laborer to a sheet metal company in April 2004.
She said she believes racism is to blame for the lack of minorities' getting jobs.
"Without a doubt," she said. "It's 100 percent racism."
Besides Dennis, Boles was joined by about 20 supporters.