September 22, 2014

Elyria
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School officials put on spot over minority contractors

ELYRIA — Elyria school officials said Wednesday they are aiming for total transparency concerning the construction of a new Elyria High, and at least one local leader put them to the test on the spot.

Lorain County Urban League President Fred Wright urged the school district to reach out to local minority contractors and laborers as the district begins seeking bids for construction contracts.

“No matter how hard we try, it seems like we always get that information after the fact,” Wright said, referring to minority contractors negotiating the labyrinth of meetings and procedures wrapped up in large construction projects.

School officials promised Wright that the district and its construction manager, Regency Construction, would launch a sizable information campaign to provide minority contractors with guidelines to obtain work for the new high school.

Regency Construction has already signed on to attend a diversity-in-business conference at Lorain County Community College on Oct. 24, and school officials are scheduling information sessions where local construction contractors can familiarize themselves with the potential contracts that will be awarded.

Wright said he’d like to see 10 to 15 percent of the construction contracts go to minority businesses, including women and minorities.

Officials from Architectural Vision Group said the state — which is chipping in about 40 percent of the co-funded cost of the $68 million project — recommends that at least 5 percent of the contractors are minority-owned businesses.

Architectural Vision Group is the architect for the new school.

As far as open records go, Elyria school administrators said local residents can stop by the administration office on Griswold Road and examine detailed project booklets any time.

Regency and Architectural Vision Group say the district — and the public — will be provided with periodic, comprehensive portfolios that outline the project’s costs to date, where the money was spent and other relevant details.

In addition, the school district will host community forums in late December or early January to allow the public to give input on schematic drawings of the new school, which are expected to be released around that time.

Contact Shawn Foucher at (440) 653-6255 or sfoucher@chroniclet.com.