By Ronda Watson Barber
Is Columbus City Schools really committed to the LEDE purchasing program? My opinion is an overwhelmingly NO!
- The District fails to meet the mandated 20 percent policy with disadvantaged businesses.
- White companies are the beneficiary of the LEDE purchasing program in a predominantly Black school district.
- Last year 18 white companies received 53.2% of the district’s LEDE spend.
- White companies received $20.3 million in contracts while 47 Black companies were awarded $13.6 million.
- I met with Deputy Superintendent David James in Sept of 2021. We discussed the LEDE program and the disadvantaged of business purchasing policy. As he was new to the position, I presented him with several documents pertaining to the Operations Division. He indicated that the District doesn’t have any guidelines to administer the policy. He said he would be working to establish guidelines for the program.
- I forwarded an email to Dr. James on Thursday, May 5 (eight months later) to inquire about the status of the guidelines for the LEDE program. It appeared to be a reminder to him. He emailed that he would assign that task to the Outreach Coordinator. Contracts have been awarded and guidelines to increase spending diversity and prevent fraud have not been established.
I don’t see district leadership making supplier diversity a priority. Legislation is forwarded to and passed by the elected board that doesn’t include diversity. The same elected board will be asking the Black community to support a tax levy to build new schools. A levy, if passed, where Columbus Black businesses will pay taxes to benefit white companies during the construction of new schools. Poor Black children are subsidizing the middle-class lifestyles of the suburbs and their public schools. Columbus City Schools is still practicing taxation without participation. Why is it still business as usual?
Just my thoughts…RWB