The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board unanimously agreed Thursday to try to have at least 20 percent of its construction work and professional services go to companies owned by women and racial minorities.

That’s different from the school system’s goal since July 2008, of having 20 percent of such work go only to firms certified as disadvantaged business enterprises.

The revised policy approved Thursday continues to encourage companies to become certified as DBEs, but allows minority and women-owned businesses to also count toward meeting that target.

Former board member Alfred C. Williams, who served until March under contract as the school’s diversity outreach coordinator, urged the School Board to move away from measuring success only by DBEs.

Williams has told the board that some contractors were unwilling to go through the DBE certification process, saying in most cases it was useful only for landing state and federal work on roads and bridges. In Baton Rouge, only the Louisiana Department of Transportation offers DBE certification.

In May and June, the School Board failed twice to muster enough votes to renew Williams’ $171,000 annual year contract.

Now, the school system is going to hire someone in-house to do this job.

The board on Thursday approved a job description for the position which is being called “fair share coordinator.”

The person hired for the job will answer to Chief Business Operations Officer Catherine Fletcher. The salary for the position, between $51,000 and $53,000, will come for a 1-cent sales tax that voters first approved in 1998.

Board member Jill Dyason asked Dilworth whether the position needed to be full time or whether an existing employee could just have duties added. He said the move to seeking not just DBEs but minority- and women-owned businesses will involve more work.

“This is going to be a full-time job,” she said.

Board member Connie Bernard made a motion, but got no board member to second her, to hold off on filling this job until the School Board picks a new superintendent to replace John Dilworth, who is leaving in June when his contract ends.