Gov. Jennifer Granholm has encouraged school districts to share services with each other, and Rep. Tim Melton has introduced House Bill 6488 that would create a commission that can mandate service consolidation. This year’s survey checked on whether districts have been sharing services without additional prompting from state government. The survey found that Michigan school districts share a wide range of services.
Food services are a commonly shared service, with 52 districts participating in food purchasing blocks or by sharing a food service manager. Okemos Public Schools, for instance, shares a food service manager with Springport Public Schools.
Portions of transportation services are also frequently shared, with 124 districts reporting that they share facilities and services. Districts often share their bus garages with other districts and split repair costs. Others work with each other and their ISDs to transport athletes, take students to special events, and provide special education. Bloomingdale Public Schools, for instance, contracts out for bus maintenance with Gobles Public Schools.
Shared technology services are also commonplace, with 85 school districts sharing network maintenance, software purchasing, infrastructure, or technology supervisors.
Many school districts also work with each other in a number of business services, including sharing a business manager or chief financial officer, accounting services, principals, superintendents, labor agreement negotiators, secretaries and payroll services. Districts also frequently join together to get discounts on purchases and to lower transaction costs. There were 146 districts that reported sharing some of their business services.
Other services shared with districts are special education services, psychologists and counselors, maintenance staff, among several others. Sharing services allows smaller districts to tap specialists that it might not be able to employ by itself. The Kaleva Norman Dickson School District and Bear Lake Public Schools share a part-time speech aid and a special education aid.
Districts have largely shared services when the opportunity arises. However, few districts reported that they use another district or an ISD to provide for all technology, business, food or transportation services.