Labor Dept. will start over with bidding for Job Corps contract

Published: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 5:21 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 5:21 p.m.

After awarding and then canceling two bids for different operators to take over the Gainesville Job Corps Center, the U.S. Department of Labor has thrown out the entire process and decided to start over.

Del-Jen will continue to operate the center, as it has since 2002, on a short-term contract at least until the Department of Labor awards a new contract. The department will issue a new request for bids within the next few months, according to spokesman Mike D'Aquino.

The Labor Department decided to start over to resolve a protest to the previous bid award filed with the Government Accountability Office.

The Job Corps program offers career development education and training to low-income youth age 16-24. Students come from around the state and live on the campus at the Airport Industrial Park while they are enrolled.

The department awarded the contract to ResCare of Louisville, Ky., in June 2012, but decided to re-evaluate all bids after Del-Jen filed a protest. A new contract was offered to Management & Training Corporation of Centerville, Utah, in January and then put on hold after the latest protest.

In the meantime, SIATech has been delayed in moving its charter school off the Job Corps campus as it waits for upgrades to its new location near Interstate 75 and Newberry Road. The school plans to move into a temporary location in the recently closed Sweetwater Academy on Northeast 16th Avenue around Sept. 16, said board chairwoman Alena Lawson.

SIATech provides a high school curriculum to Job Corps students, but is moving off campus to take in additional students who are not in the Job Corps program to boost enrollment.

Lawson said the school needs about 200 students to maintain funding levels and last week dropped to 53 for the year-round program following the Job Corps' temporary enrollment freeze to deal with budget issues.

The Job Corps has since cut its maximum enrollment from 350 to 275 as a cost-cutting measure, and not all youth in the program attend SIATech.

Lawson said SIATech has put students on hold until SIATech can move off campus. SIATech's charter allows the school to take in students from Alachua and surrounding counties.

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