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Next Up for Mayor's Summer Jobs Program: Cooking School?

In today's Post, we brought you an examination of how much the District spent on contracts with 35 private vendors to employ students in Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's summer jobs program. The city spent more than $10 million on administrative fees, blowing through a cost limit and failing to ensure that vendors spent the money properly and provided the services called for in the contracts.

As we reported, every vendor who responded to the city's "request for proposals" ultimately received a contract. But there was one idea that was rejected.

It came from Deborah Hayman, director of the HDI Training & Research, Inc., who had sought $500,000 to send 80 students to a culinary boarding school at the University of Maryland at Eastern Shore. Hayman said she has been trying to get a culinary program started for a few years, first pitching the idea unsuccessfully to the state of Maryland as a vocational training program for students.

"I believe in vocational training," said Hayman, a native Washingtonian who said she founded her organization after a career in the corporate world. "Each child should develop a skill in additon to academic training. In my era we had all of it."

Not that Hayman walked away empty-handed. The D.C. employment agency granted her a separate contract to train 200 students in job readiness skills at a cost of $1,900 apiece. In that contract, Hayman promised to take another 10 students to the culinary camp, though she said she took only five to Maryland-Eastern Shore but that they didn't do any cooking because the camp has not been funded.

As for the bulk of the students, Hayman said she divided them into groups focusing on career training for topics such as research, debate, film and photography, graphic design and set design. sewing and quilting. and theater. She hired 17 new staff to help teach, according to the contract.

"You can't put a price tag on what impact the program has on kids," Hayman said.

Hayman said the city contract, which was for a total of $400,000, was the largest contract her organization, which is applying for non-profit status, has ever had. She said she expects to bid again next summer, if the city seeks vendors again, and also hopes to convince the city about the culinary school.

"They liked it," she said of the idea. "They encouraged me to do it next year."

By David A Nakamura  |  October 17, 2008; 7:55 AM ET
Categories:  Mayor Fenty  
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Next: List of All D.C. Summer Jobs Vendors

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