EDITOR’S CLARIFICATION: To be Pittsburgh Promise ready, the grade point average for students is 2.5. The printed edition stated in error that the grade point average had been increased.
“Expect Great Things: Partners in Excellence” was the theme during the Pittsburgh Public School district’s annual Business Opportunity Extravaganza.
“The event was very informative and provided the opportunity to make new connections,” said Derrick Wilson, President and CEO of The Wilson Group. Approximately 200 eligible business enterprises participated in the event.
Hosted by the Pittsburgh Public Schools’ Minority/Women Business Department, Paula B. Castleberry explained that the purpose of the Business Opportunity Extravaganza was to provide attendees, mostly small businesses, with an understanding of PPS’ focus and goals of the coming year and to identify ways to partner with the district to meet the goals. “We have a fresh perspective, but our goals are still the same, the pursuit of excellence,” Castleberry said.
It was pointed out that PPS promotes and encourages full and open competition in the procurement of goods and services to ensure and maintain equitable and inclusive purchasing procedures. Through their MWB Department the district provides eligible business enterprise vendor registration, mediation for MWBE firms, reports contract compliance and provides technical assistance through workshops and partnerships. Eligible business enterprises are comprised of businesses owned by ethnic minorities, women, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. Castleberry said businesses do not have to be certified to do business with PPS. The eligible business enterprises are entitled to equal access to and opportunities for public contracting, specifically construction contracts and contracts for the purchase of goods as provided for in the Public School Code.
To outline the process and explain available contracts, a panel discussion took place with departmental representatives including: Facilities, Purchasing, Plant Operations, Finance, Food Services, Communications and Marketing, Technology, Legal, and Human Resources. PPS operates 54 schools and had a 2016-17 enrollment of 24,652 students.
PPS Superintendent, Anthony Hamlet, PhD, while providing an overview of the district’s five-year strategic plan, made it clear that the true purpose and nature of the existence of PPS is to “educate our children.” He said that it is important that vendors know that the products, services and resources they provide should support student growth and development in some way.
He also indicated that the district’s mission is for all students to graduate high school—college, career and life-ready prepared to complete a two-or four-year college degree or workforce certification. To be Pittsburgh Promise ready, the grade point average is currently a 2.5.
The four long-term outcomes in phase one of the district’s strategic plan are to increase proficiency in literacy and math, ensure that all students have the skills needed for success in college, career and life, and eliminate disparity in achievement levels for African American students.
The plan will be achieved by using four themes with specific objectives and initiatives, Dr. Hamlet explained. The themes are: to create a positive and supportive school culture, to develop and implement a rigorous, aligned instructional system, to provide relevant and timely instructional support for teachers and school-based staff, and to develop and broaden teacher pipeline and recruitment efforts to yield a diverse, culturally competent and effective workforce.
Ending the Business Opportunity Extravaganza, Castleberry presented the Supplier Diversity Award of Excellence to Mark Stuckey, director of end user services, a part of the technology division whom she labeled as a champion for his insight to award the largest contract in the history of the PPS to a certified MBE vendor. Last year, The Wilson Group was awarded a $6.2 million, five-year contract to provide solutions to help the district better manage its workflow. According to Wilson, The Wilson Group is the leading provider of document workflow solutions in Western Pennsylvania. Services include design, implementation and management of solutions that streamline workflow processes, increase employee productivity and lower costs. The company helps clients leverage the right technologies, equipment and tools to achieve superior performance.
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