HOUGHTON LAKE — Houghton Lake schools will be reaping savings for this school year by contracting for food service with Chartwells.

The district had been operating under a contract with the company for the management of the district’s food service. This year it believed that more savings could be obtained by contracting for the entire food service operation.

The district is going through some tough fiscal times. It is losing enrollment, has closed two elementary schools and has reduced its workforce by roughly 100 employees. The district has also had four superintendents in one year, according to current Superintendent Peter Injasoulian.

Among the three chief support services — transportation, janitorial and food service — food is the most commonly outsourced. In Michigan, 158 school districts contract for this service. Houghton Lake has gone beyond many of those to contract for labor as well as management.

The district also contracted its substitute dispatching to Professional Educational Service Group. PESG will save the district from having to pay into employee retirement funds for substitutes. The move is expected to save the district $16,000, according to the Houghton Lake Resorter.

This contract was counted in the Mackinac Center’s 2006 summer privatization survey because the district had contracted for management services.