Fayette County Public Schools wants to attract more businesses owned by minorities and women to be vendors for the school system.
As a first step, the Fayette County Board of Education voted Monday night to establish a position called "manager of economic development," charged with boosting the participation of such businesses in supplying goods and services to the schools.
Creation of the post was recommended by the Equity Council's Resources and Facilities Committee.
The Fayette school board in 2004 set a goal of having 10 percent participation by minorities and women in all school district procurement contracts and projects.
However, participation is at less than 1 percent, according to Vince Mattox, the district's director of community-school-government support.
According to the equity council's resources and facilities committee, participation has been hindered by several barriers — including the district's lack of a broad database of businesses owned by minorities and women, and the fact that many such businesses lack sufficient bonding capacity. Removing such barriers will be one of the responsibilities of the new economic development manager.
Mattox noted that the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government and Jefferson County Public Schools have similar positions. The salary for the new post will be $41,000 to $50,000, according to the school board.
In other action Monday night, the board awarded an $18 million contract to Messer Construction for Phase II of the planned Locust Trace Agri-Science Farm on Lees town Road. It calls for construction of a classroom building and arena, with space for livestock.
Fayette County Public Schools has received $100,000 in grants from the state Department of Agriculture for Locust Trace.
Phase I of Locust Trace, with an entrance off Leestown Road, is under construction.
Locust Trace is scheduled to open in fall 2011 on an 82-acre site, which the school system received free from the federal government. It will be home to a variety of programs in agriculture, science and related fields.