Hillsborough schools are making progress in awarding contracts to minority-run businesses, but those sent to women-run operations are still quite low.
A school district report, the latest accounting in an area where the Hillsborough school system has long been criticized, shows that the percentage of construction-related contracts given to minorities increased during the 1993-94 fiscal year, with substantial gains for African-American-run businesses.
According to the report, minority- and women-run businesses took about $10-million of the $39-million spent in school construction in the last fiscal year _ a 6.7 percent increase over the previous year. That amount is more than double what the school district strives for as a goal for minority contracts.
"Our plan calls for a 10 percent minority participation," deputy superintendent Pete Davidsen said Friday. "What we will do is tell our contractors that we want to get at least a 10 percent (minority participation) on jobs. If they want more, that's fine."
The district bases the 10 percent figure on a study done last year by Florida Institute of Government at the University of Florida. In that study, the school district was criticized for sending most of its minority contracts to Hispanic business.
This year, black-operated businesses had the largest increase. African-American-run companies received more than $3-million, compared to a paltry $1,020 four years ago. Of minority businesses getting work from the school system, Hispanic-owned companies still received the most contracts _ about 38 percent of the minority participation _ but that figure has dropped by about 15 percent from last year.
Women-run businesses reaped the tiniest benefit. They earned a meager 3.7 percent share of minority contracts, for an increase of about 1 percent. Excluding Hispanic- and black-run businesses, women took a share about equal to all other minorities combined.
Hillsborough School Board member Doris Ross Reddick, who criticized the small percentage of contracts African-Americans received four years ago, said the issue of contracts awarded to women also needs to be addressed.
Reddick said, "I don't know if it's the type of business or not, but we need to work on that."