- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 21, 2015

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The Omaha Public Schools board remains divided on a plan to help small, local businesses that is tied to a $421 million bond program

The Omaha World-Herald (https://bit.ly/1QeccHz ) reports the board remained deadlocked after several rounds of voting Monday. The plan would develop policies to help contractors and vendors respond to more bid requests, to increase the pool of qualified businesses and to make economic inclusion a part of the bond program.

Some board members wanted to go ahead and adopt the plan, while others said they could not support it because the participation goal for small businesses is too small. The plan calls for a participation rate of 7 percent, which is equal to $17 million of bond spending. At the meeting, board member Justin Wayne called for a higher participation rate as high as 10 or 12 percent

Businesses bidding for bond work would be asked to provide job or training opportunities for district students.

The school board is expected to revisit the plan in the coming weeks.

Some board members are concerned the board’s difficulty with coming to a decision on this matter could jeopardize community support and construction projects that are tied to the bond program.

“What happens if we wait two weeks? We lose a vote of confidence with our community,” board member Yolanda Williams said. “At the end of the day, our whole entire community is waiting on this.”

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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