Diverse contracting now policy in Portland schools
Under a new policy geared towards equity, Portland Public Schools plans to draw more businesses owned by women and people of color.
The “Equity in Public Purchasing and Contracting Policy” is expected to benefit the community as well as students of color and young women.
“In addition to the economic impact of our community, our policy provides more opportunities for our students to gain career-related experience from successful professionals of all races and genders that contract with the school district,” said Superintendent Carole Smith.
Policy goals include increasing district contracting dollars spent with women- and minority-owned businesses and emerging small businesses. Likewise, the district hopes to see greater numbers of student minorities engaging in career learning opportunities and programs.
“This is about equity and access for qualified professionals,” said Martin Gonzalez, school board chairman.
The equity policy intends to boost the number of women and minorities in the construction trades through the school apprenticeships on district construction contracts.
Representatives from the Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs, National Association of Minority Contractors, the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber, Portland Workforce Alliance and the Coalition of Clack Men also testified in favor of the policy.
“The implementation of this policy is key to success,” Gale Castillo, president of the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber, told the board. “I would encourage you to focus on communities of color and women.”
James Posey, former chairman of the National Association for Minority Contractors and former president of the Coalition of Black Men, called the policy “a real anchor in this community in terms of equity” and an opportunity to go beyond what other institutions have done.
According to Elaine Holt, program director of PPS Purchasing and Contracting, under the new policy, the goal of contracting with more minority- and women-owned firms and emerging small businesses will now be among key criteria when the district is looking to hire contractors.
The school district considers several priorities when selecting the best contractor for a job, Holt said. “Bidding price and the firm’s track record are always considerations and now diversifying our contractor base will be as well.”