MIDLAND —Privatization within Michigan public schools and universities continues to build momentum. From its headquarters in Midland, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy is monitoring this trend and notes these recent developments:
After more than a year under their belt, school district officials in the Lenawee County community of Tecumseh declared the experience with privatizing the district’s transportation department a success. Originally estimated to save nearly $1 million over the life of the contract with Ryder Transportation, the move is now anticipated to save more than $1 million. In assessing the experience, the Daily Telegram in Adrian wrote, "We’re not really sure when schools originally got into the transportation business. But with education dollars becoming harder to come by, maybe schools should focus their attention on teaching children and developing the curriculum and leave the transportation end of things to the professionals."
This summer, the Board of Education in Coldwater (Branch County) hired American Truck Driving School (ATDS) to manage its transportation maintenance services. At the same time, the Branch Intermediate School District decided to hire a private firm for custodial services.
The Board of Education of the Saginaw Township Community Schools voted in July to rehire Integrated Solutions to oversee bus operations. The district will pay the firm $78,000 to manage 30 vehicles and 21 drivers, resulting in a savings of $23,000.
The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education hired two local businesses to handle grounds maintenance services during the mowing season this year. Trustee Richard Brame said that a substantial amount of money would be saved in the areas of equipment replacement, maintenance, insurance, gas and oil, overtime and workers’ compensation.
Two Flint elementary schools, Garfield and Williams, will be managed by the for-profit Edison Project, beginning with the 1997-98 school year. That brings the total number of schools run by the company nationwide to 25 in eight states.
Central Michigan University is planning to privatize health care services for students. CMU’s vice president for business and finance, Kim Ellertson, says that "One of our goals is to expand the services we provide students by bringing in an organization with greater resources and significant experience in managing and providing quality health care."