EAST LANSING — School district leaders in East Lansing have convinced the school board to reconsider privatizing custodial services after the board rejected a similar proposal only a month earlier. On June 9, the seven-member East Lansing School Board agreed on a 4-2 vote to work out a privatization plan that district finance chief Maria Bolen says would save the 3,600-student district $560,000 in the first year. The move comes as district leaders try to come up with ways to pay of a looming $4.2 million budget deficit projected for next year. On June 23 the East Lansing School Board voted to privatize their custodial services. This is a change the Mackinac Center for Public Policy recommended in the district in 1993.
Privatizing services is necessary to avoid teacher layoffs, Barbara McMillan, the board president, told the Lansing State Journal. Yet, the move was opposed by the Michigan Education Association (MEA). “One of the advantages of not privatizing is that the district has direct control over the quality of services provided,” Mike McEachern, the regional MEA representative, told the Journal, although it is difficult to imagine what could be more difficult than trying to fire public employee union members who aren’t doing a good job. One of the most powerful rationales for privatization is that you can fire a company that doesn’t perform.