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Workforce Profile Meets Some Goals In School Projects

March 22, 2005
By RACHEL GOTTLIEB, Courant Staff Writer

A study, conducted by Diggs Construction, of five Hartford schools under renovation showed that all of the projects are exceeding the city's goal of giving at least 15 percent of the work to women- and minority-owned businesses.

Overall, 32.9 percent of the work is going to women and minorities.

But all except one of the construction managers is falling short of the goal to set aside 30 percent of the jobs for Hartford residents. The overall participation of city residents is 16.2 percent.

The actual numbers could be higher, said James Keaney, program director at Diggs, but none of the five construction managers has submitted complete lists of payroll employees for the log Diggs is maintaining.

Council member Veronica Airey-Wilson, who is a member of the school building committee, asked whether the construction managers are taking the request for complete information about employees seriously. Keaney said that they are taking the log seriously and that he recently sent a letter to each of them notifying them that the city would withhold payment from them if they don't complete their logs.

And since 85 percent of the work at the schools is reserved for union labor, Keaney said he's contacting the unions and making it clear to them that he expects them to increase the number of Hartford residents on the job at Hartford Public High School and Naylor, Burr, Rawson and Noah Webster elementary schools.

Finally, Keaney said, the construction work is just six months into the cycle so there's time to change the workforce profile.

In a vote of confidence in the work Diggs is doing overseeing schools, the committee voted unanimously to expand Diggs' responsibility to oversee preconstruction work on the next three magnet schools in the pipeline: University High School, Sport and Medical Sciences Academy and Pathways to Technology. The committee accepted Diggs' request for $990,000 for the assignment, which runs through April, 2006.

Last year, when the building committee replaced Konover Construction at Hartford Public, Mayor Eddie A. Perez, who is chairman of the building committee, indicated that he was taking a hard look at Diggs, too. Diggs has since replaced its top management and hired people with considerable experience in the state.

In other business, the committee voted to develop state grant applications to renovate West Middle, Kinsella and Annie Fisher elementary schools. Kinsella is slated to convert to a magnet school focusing on early childhood education and Annie Fisher is to become a magnet school with a "multiple intelligences" theme similar to the University of Hartford Magnet School.

Committee member Elizabeth Brad Noel, who is also a school board member, objected to developing state grant applications before the city planning department completes a study on the district's space needs. Committee member Robert E. Long, who also is chairman of the school board, strenuously objected to Noel's attempt to delay work on the schools, saying that the school board voted to proceed with the plan the way it is.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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