An agreement was inked Tuesday to hire locally and use local materials if the Oberlin school system builds a new preschool-through-fifth grade campus.
Board of education member Barry Richard has been working with members of the Oberlin Community Benefits Coalition for nearly a year and a half to create a resolution, which was unanimously approved at the January board meeting.
During all phases of the as-yet-unapproved facility project, all contractors would be required to hire local residents, subcontract local businesses, and purchase materials and services from local suppliers.
Residents hired will receive training and mentoring, get paid union scale wages, and people of all diversities and employment backgrounds will be considered for jobs.
Richard said the intent of the deal is to show the district’s commitment to include the community as much as possible.
“I think this is just a good opportunity for the residents of Oberlin and the tax base here and to the city itself,” said John Youngberg of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 42, Norwalk, and a member of the coalition.
He said the construction of a new building would be an economic driver and it’s important to keep some of the money in town.
“It’s a good opportunity also to get something worked out with the building trades for training to try to get residents into the building trades where they have good careers,” Youngberg said.
“We are very committed to seeing growth and development in the city of Oberlin,” said A.G. Miller, a member of the coalition. “It provides a perfect opportunity for us to have local participation in the development of the building and resourcing contractors.”
Miller believes residents will support the construction of a new school campus because this agreement will allow them to be a part of the building process.
“Hopefully we’ll have a chance to actually build a building at some point so we can put this thing to use,” Richard said.
The board has not voted to put a bond issue on the ballot to build a new elementary school but it is a matter that has been discussed often.
Board vice president Anne Schaum said she is worried contractors might not like the agreement. “Are we going to be tying our own hands on what contractors and organization we can use?” she asked.
Richard said the wording was cleared with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission.
“We’re going to walk the walk and not talk the talk,” Richard said. “This took many hours with the attorneys to make sure this is workable within the structure of the state funding. We did our homework.”
Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.
Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune
Oberlin board of education member Barry Richard discusses the importance of hiring residents and local businesses when the district builds a new preschool-through-fifth grade campus.