Columbus City Schools finally releases 2020-2021 LEDE spending numbers

White men are the beneficiaries of the disadvantaged business purchasing program

By Ronda Watson Barber
OhioMBE Publisher

The state’s largest public school finally responded to my request for the LEDE utilization numbers for the school term 2020-2021.  I sent FIVE requests to Dr. David James, Deputy Superintendent, Operations. It is my understanding that the request was forwarded to the demoted COO Maurice Oldham and the interim Purchasing Director. I sent an email to Board Member Michael Cole to secure the report. He didn’t respond.  Only after notifying the entire elected board, did I finally receive a copy. Thanks, Judge Brown for your prompt attention to the matter and for forwarding me a copy of the spending numbers.

Columbus City Schools again failed to meet the 20 percent purchasing goal as stated in the board policy. The district spent 14% of $274,708,082 with disadvantaged businesses. It appears white men continue to be the beneficiary of the program. 

The policy states:  The Board affirms its commitment to its “Equity Policy.” The School District seeks to include LEDEs in all aspects of its contracting for construction, professional and non-professional services, and procurement of goods and supplies activities by adopting this statement (this “LEDE Statement”). Specifically, the LEDE Statement seeks to achieve the goal of awarding to LEDEs School District contracts and procurements which represent at least twenty percent (20%) of all dollars spent on an annual basis by the School District for contracting and procurement purposes (the “LEDE Participation Goal”). The School District is committed to ensuring that all citizens and/or lawfully admitted permanent residents in the School District community who are qualified contractors, subcontractors, professionals, suppliers, and other service providers have a fair and equitable opportunity to participate in the contracting and procurement activities of the School District.

For the school term 2020-2021

  • 88 LEDE companies received contracts
  • 47 Black companies received $13,560,1398.98 or 35.5% of spending
  • 18 White companies received $20,330,256.42 or 53% of spending
  • The district spent $274,708,082 overall
  • $38,181,451.91 was spent with LEDE businesses
  • 14 percent was spent with disadvantaged businesses

I am not going to get a response from the district.  The numbers speak for themselves.  They give me the same rhetoric every year.  I do have questions:

  • Why can’t the district meet the 20% purchasing goal?
  • Why is legislation forwarded to the Board that doesn’t include LEDE participation?
  • Why are white companies receiving half of the contracts?
  • Should the district establish a program for Black vendors?
  • Should the district establish a program for Columbus City School graduates?
  • Who is advocating for Black businesses?
  • Should Black businesses continue to accept the purchasing crumbs and keep it moving?

Where is the equity for Black businesses in Columbus City Schools?  Aside from the Outreach Coordinator, who is looking out for Black vendors? 

Just my thoughts…rwb

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