District Works to Ensure Hispanic Community is Well-Informed About Bond

HISD’s Hispanic Advisory Committee got a firsthand look Thursday at steps being taken to ensure the 2012 bond program includes outreach and opportunities for the area’s diverse business communities.

The district is continuing to move forward with its $1.89 billion program to build or renovate 40 schools across the city, including many high schools. The work is expected to create thousands of new jobs, including many opportunities for residents and businesses surrounding the schools.

To help keep the community informed, the district has been updating its many advisory committees on the bond program, including a presentation in January to the African American Advisory Committee. A meeting with the district’s Asian Advisory Committee is scheduled for later this month.

Myriam Saldivar, a member of the Hispanic Advisory Committee and the constituent service director for state Rep. Armando Walle, wanted to know the plans for reaching out to residents and potential workers.

“We’re going to be doing outreach at every school,” said Alexis Licata, the general manager for HISD’s Office of Business Assistance. “We’re going to be holding two events at every location.”

The goal is to schedule networking events at each bond campus that would encourage small businesses to partner up with general contractors in preparation for bidding on a building project, Licata said.

Once a general contractor is selected, a second meeting will be held for local tradespeople to encourage their participation. The bottom line for HISD is to make sure all qualified suppliers and vendors, including minority and women-owned business enterprises, feel they have access to procurement opportunities.

The district’s M/WBE program has already seen a record level of success with M/WBE participation in the 2007 bond program at 33 percent. As the 2012 bond program unfolds, HISD wants to build on that progress and find new ways to encourage M/WBE participation.

Licata also talked to the 16-member Hispanic Advisory Committee about steps being taken to ensure a quality bond program that pays prevailing wages.

The district is planning to release an RFP in February that will seek bids for labor, safety, and security compliance on the job sites. As part of that bid, the district is also seeking suppliers to manage a certified payroll program to ensure workers get paid on time and at the prevailing wage set by the district.

Licata said the district is setting up those safeguards to help minimize payment disputes.

“It is extremely important that awarded contractors are reporting correct wages, time and taxes for all workers associated with their bond project,” she said.