Any school district that wishes to design its own RFP from scratch should purchase a guide entitled “How to Develop Your Request for Proposal,” published by the California-based Brandon Hall Research.[xxxix][91] This paper, the best of its kind, describes the basic contents of an RFP and includes an example of an RFP for a hypothetical bread company interested in acquiring a “Learning Management System.” The book’s RFP outline is reprinted in Graphic 5 with the permission of Brandon Hall.

Graphic 5: Outline of an RFP
(Developed by Brandon Hall Research)

I. Introduction

A. Overview of the company[xl]
B. Overview of the opportunity
C. RFP goals

II. Instructions for responding

  • Bid submission and award notification
  • Number of copies, submission deadline and timeline
  • Confidentiality
  • Questions and answers

III. Basis of award

(1) Quality of service and track record of results
(2) Service orientation and project management skills
(3) Financials (statement of work and pricing)
(4) Implementation and transition plan
(5) Innovation and management information services

IV. Proposal duration

V. Additional considerations

  • Liabilities
  • Audits
  • Confidentialities

VI. Scope of services, service levels and related requirements

  • Strategic partnership
  • Measurement and evaluation
  • System and software compatibility
  • Quality and performance guarantees
  • Invoicing
  • Activity reporting
  • Project team
  • Continuous improvement
  • Other

VII. References

VIII. Award duration

IX. Contract terms


A. Assignment of intellectual property and nondisclosure agreement[xli]
B. Request for information
C. Standard contract terms and conditions [92]

Districts that are interested in using ready-made RFPs that have been employed successfully in Michigan can easily do so. Working jointly, Michigan School Business Officials, the Michigan Association of School Administrators and the Michigan Institute for Education Management have collected and posted at a wide variety of contract-related documents, including RFPs for the three main school services discussed in this primer:

These “School Purchasing Pages” RFPs will be referred to in the discussions of RFPs below. Readers interested in other examples of Michigan school districts’ RFPs can inspect a number that have been posted to the Mackinac Center’s Web site. The Web addresses for these RFPs appear in “Appendix 2: Sample RFPs, Company Responses and Contracts.”[xliii]

[xxxix] "How to Develop Your Request for Proposal" is available for purchase through the company’s Web site at

[xl] In the contracting of school support services, the “company” referred to here would be the school district.

[xli] This section would not apply in the case of school support services, but an appendix might instead deal with the ultimate ownership of certain property used in the provision of the service.

[xlii] As will be discussed below, RFPs for food services must conform closely to state and federal guidelines. The sample RFP cited here was in conformity with those guidelines, but may now be outdated. Districts interested in contracting for food services should make sure they have received the most recent recommended RFP from the state.

[xliii] The Web version of this primer has live hyperlinks for all of the items listed in Appendix 2: Sample RFPs, Company Responses and Contracts.