• 31.5 percent of districts (173 out of 550) contract out for custodial services.
  • 29 districts began contracting the service this year.
  • 16 of these districts provided dollar-figure savings estimates; these contracts are estimated to save Michigan taxpayers $3,454,200 per year.

Graphic 4: Districts Contracting Custodial Service

Graphic 4: Districts Contracting Custodial Service  - click to enlarge

Graphic 5

Districts new to custodial contracting


Woodhaven-Brownstown School District     


Oakridge Public Schools


Livonia-Clarenceville School District


St. Clair Shores  South Lake


Gull Lake Community Schools


Harper Creek Schools


Beaverton Rural Schools


Athens Area Schools


Okemos Public Schools


Armada Area Schools


Plainwell Community Schools


Fairgrove-Akron-Fairgrove Schools


Alma Public Schools


Blissfield Community Schools


Fulton Schools


Ubly Community Schools


Croswell-Lexington School District


Crawford AuSable Schools


Highland Park Schools


Lake Linden-Hubbell Schools


Lapeer Community Schools


Mendon Community Schools


Negaunee Public Schools


Newaygo Public Schools


Onekama Consolidated Schools


Sodus Township School District 5


Waldron Area Schools


*Denotes insufficient documentation

Woodhaven-Brownstown Area Schools recently won a major court victory over AFSCME and the American Federation of Labor about public-sector labor law and is expected to reap significant financial rewards from the battle.

As part of legislation passed in Michigan’s application for extra federal money under the “Race to the Top” program, the state changed its law on prohibited subjects of bargaining. The law had stated that whether a district contracts out cannot be negotiated in union collective bargaining agreements. The change attempted to ensure that public-sector unions would stand on equal footing with private-sector companies if the district decided to seek bids. However, government unions argued that in order to do that they would need to set some of the terms for bidding. Eventually, an appellate court decided in an unpublished opinion that the law did not entitle unions to request bidding terms prior to the district seeking bids.

A new contract between GCA and the Woodhaven-Brownstown Area Schools is projected to save the district more than $1.36 million per year on custodial services. With 5,093 students in the district, this translates into an effective
$267 per-pupil funding increase. District officials also remarked that this estimate does not include likely savings on “soft” costs, such as reduced time processing payroll. The district expects even more savings for the second and third years of this contract, up to $1.5 million in the third year.

Oakridge Public Schools in Muskegon recently approved a new custodial contract with Enviro-Clean, service to begin in the 2011-12 school year. Savings for the first year are projected to reach $520,000, well over half of the district’s previous in-house costs. Without these savings, the school district fund balance would have plunged to only $21,000.

South Lake Schools in St. Clair Shores is also ready to begin the 2011-12 year with a new custodial provider, Commercial Sanitation Management Services. The board expects savings between $300,000 and $340,000 in the first year. These savings are key to helping the district’s fund balance: In January, the school board foresaw a roughly $1.16 million fund deficit by the end of the fiscal year in June.

Athens Area Schools privatized the majority of its custodians with Hi-Tec over the summer. The district says a number of its employees utilized the state’s early retirement incentive and the district turned to privatization to fill spots and employ its remaining employees. The district expects savings of $112,000 per year throughout the three-year contract, with the savings primarily coming from retirement and insurance.

Okemos Public Schools needed to trim its custodial budget, and the board thoroughly investigated privatization. Although they did not decide to fully privatize custodial services, five retiring custodians were replaced by workers contracted through Hi-Tec. The district expects savings of roughly $100,000 from these five positions, and will consider replacing future retirees with Hi-Tec workers as well.

Alma Public Schools needed to hire new custodians for only one of its elementary schools. The district chose to contract through Grand Rapids Building Services for the two custodians needed. In addition to an expected $23,000 in savings, the district hopes to use this as an opportunity to compare the privatized service to in-house custodial services at a comparable elementary school nearby.