School Support Service Contracting Reaches 70.8 percent

Growth in Food Service, Custodial and Transportation Services Returns After Slow 2014

Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015

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Dan Armstrong
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MIDLAND – The Mackinac Center for Public Policy found that 70.8 percent of Michigan public school districts contract out to private-sector vendors to provide food service, custodial or transportation services, based on results from its 2015 survey of Michigan public school districts.

The Mackinac Center has surveyed school districts about their support service practices since 2001, when it found only 31 percent of school districts contracted out these services.

Contracting has grown steadily over this time, with 66.2 percent of districts contracting out services in 2013 and only slight growth to 66.6 percent of districts in 2014. “While the rate of school contracting slowed in 2014, it returned in 2015, rising to 70.8 percent of all districts,” said James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center.

Among these three support services, custodial services grew the most with 28 districts contracting out services since the 2014 survey. More than half of Michigan’s districts now contract out this service, and this has also grown the most over time. In 2003, only 6.6 percent of Michigan’s districts used private companies to clean and maintain school buildings.

More districts also began new transportation services — 26.6 percent of school districts now contract out to get their students to and from school — up from 3.9 percent in 2003.

The survey was conducted from May 18, 2015, to August 4, 2015, and received responses from officials in every district in Michigan. The survey’s findings can be obtained here. A map of Michigan districts that contract out services can be found here.

The full results from our 2015 school privatization survey that includes data from Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas can be found here.

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