MIDLAND — The Mackinac Center for Public Policy's sixth survey of school support service privatization shows that more than 42.2 percent of 550 conventional public school districts surveyed in the Great Lakes State contract out for at least one of the three primary noninstructional services — food, custodial and transportation. "Survey 2008: School Service Privatization Grows Again" found that 10 net new districts are now contracting for at least one support service, a 4.9 percent rate increase from 2007.

Custodial service privatization continues to show dramatic year-over-year growth. Statewide, 17.6 percent of districts have private firms doing all or part of their janitorial work, a 20.2 percent rate increase in just one year. 

Busing services also show an increase in this year's survey to 5.5 percent of the 550 districts successfully surveyed, up from a revised 4.7 percent. That represents a 15.8 percent increase in the rate of transportation-related contracting, though the total number of districts is relatively small. The Mackinac Center excludes all special education privatization and field trip contracting from its survey tally.

Food service remains the most frequently outsourced function with 29.1 percent of districts reporting having contracted either management or operation of their program. For the first time in the survey's history, food service contracting declined in net terms, although by a modest rate of 2.1 percent.

More details on the survey are available at www.mackinac.org/9726. For more information on school privatization in Michigan, visit www.mackinac.org/8691.