St. John Schools want disadvantaged business participation

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, September 9, 2014

RESERVE — Contractors and businesses wanting to work with the St. John the Baptist Parish School District will have to agree to the terms of the district’s new Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Policy, which was unanimously passed at Thursday night’s School Board meeting.

District 8 School Board Member Russ Wise was the only absent voting official at the meeting.

According to the passed resolution, the goal of the policy is “to provide maximum opportunities for participation in its construction contracts and procurements for goods and services for businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals and for businesses employing such persons.”

The brainchild of District 10 School Board Member Rodney Nicholas, the policy has been mentioned and discussed at meetings for the past couple of months.

The policy states a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, or DBE, is a “for-profit small business concern that is at least 51 percent owned by one or more individuals who are both socially and economically disadvantaged or, in the case of a corporation, in which 51 percent of the stock is owned by one or more such individuals and whose management and daily business operations are controlled by one or more of the socially and economically disadvantaged individuals who own it.”

According to the policy, the district will have the right to conduct independent DBE certification processes, but will also allow a business to receive consideration as a qualified DBE if they present certification by the Louisiana Unified Certification Program.

The policy states the School Board commits that all DBE businesses who bid on contracts will be given equal access and assistance to participate regardless of race, color, national origin, gender identity, sex, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, religion or veteran status.

Superintendent Kevin George said as the district was drafting the contract, it consulted with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and the Community Development Block Grant Program to ensure federal funding wouldn’t be jeopardized by the creation of the policy. He said the final policy draft has been sent to the agencies for a final review.

The policy clearly states that because of conflicts with federal procurement regulations, “this policy shall not apply to contracts for construction and/or professional services wherein Federal Aid is to be utilized.”

George said the policy requires an overall DBE participation goal of 25 percent in DBE eligible contracts “when possible.”