By Ronda Watson Barber
More tomfoolery is going on in Capital Improvements Department within the Columbus City School District. I just met with Black LEDE vendors who are members of the Minority Business Collaborative. According to the vendors, white project managers give white contractors facility tours before bids are submitted. None of the Black vendors in the meeting have been invited to tour a school building before submitting their bids. Is this an unfair advantage for white contractors?
On another note: Will the incumbents running for re-election to the school board and Dr. Chapman put their futures in the hands of the bumblings in Operations? There has been zero accountability for the failure to transport children to and from school. How does one explain wasting over a million on software that doesn’t work? At the last school board meeting, a parent presented a petition with over 100 signatures complaining about the continued poor performance in transportation. It was reported in the Columbus Dispatch that one bus stop is directly in front of a registered sexual predator’s residence. The same people in charge will get you the same results.
And another note: A school board member asked me about the district’s vendor registration process. I told them that requiring a W-9 and general liability insurance is a barrier for many small and Black-owned businesses. No other Central Ohio governmental entity registers vendors in this manner. Registration to receive contracting opportunities from an entity that receives tax dollars should be easy and free. Columbus City Schools’ current policy is not an inclusive practice. I explained that this practice is a vestige of the former purchasing director who implemented the policy to keep “undesirable” vendors away. Why do district officials say inactive vendors can bid on projects without adding, but we don’t notify them of the opportunities? Leaving that critical detail is deceitful, or perhaps the respondent doesn’t know the difference between the two? Perhaps it is both.
Just my thoughts…rwb