By Ronda Watson Barber
I recently had a sit-down with Columbus City Schools’ Interim Superintendent Dr. Angela Chapman and Board President Jen Adair. It was a good meeting. I have met with all leaders of Ohio’s largest public school system to emphasize the importance of the district’s disadvantaged business program known as LEDE, Locally Economic Disadvantage Enterprise, since 2010. Both heads of the district were very receptive to my opinion and advocacy for Black vendors. The LEDE program is important. Black vendors need to be included in ALL aspects of the district’s purchasing scheme with dignity and respect. The LEDE program creates economic opportunities for Central Ohio’s Black taxpayers. Columbus City Schools should be a welcoming environment for local Black businesses to provide goods and services to the predominately Black school district.
Dr. Chapman and President Adair are advocates of the program. We brainstormed on how the district could better support the program. Dr. Chapman assured me that she recognizes the importance of the program and will take measures to strengthen it.
Dr. Chapman has enormous responsibilities. She has to create a mindset change and shift in attitudes for many of those employed by the district. She is up to the task. I told her that I would assist her in any way with the new transition and leadership role. I look forward to her success. Her success means our children are educated in clean, healthy buildings surrounded by respectful staff to them and their families. It also means that local Black-owned businesses are firmly incorporated in the purchasing practices of Columbus City Schools.
Just my thoughts…rwb