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Contents of this issue:

  • Report recommends reform of outsourced prison health care

  • Belding contracts out ambulances

  • Saginaw outsources finance while looking for new treasurer

  • Midland looks for options on municipal golf course

  • Davison schools uses private custodial services for nighttime cleaning

  • Comstock Park looks to partially contract out custodial service

  • Genesee County ISD outsources substitutes

  • Southfield schools looking to contract out three noninstructional services

  • Holton schools outsources coaches

  • Niles schools take bids for transportation privatization

  • Copper County ISD to study transportation contracting


Report recommends reform of outsourced prison health care

LANSING — After nine months of study, the National Commission on Correctional Health Care, a contractor hired by the state to provide recommendations for improving health services in Michigan prisons, offered numerous suggestions, according to the Associated Press.

Currently, most health services for inmates are provided under a central contract with Correctional Medical Services, a large multi-state provider of services to prisons. One of the recommendations is that there should be stricter monitoring by the state of the contract provisions.

Productivity concerns were also raised. Prison doctors see an average of eight to 12 patients a day, but the study's authors recommend that they should see 20. Part of the lack of productivity is due to electronic documentation that takes far too long, according to the Associated Press.

The Department of Corrections has responded to a number of these suggestions and will adjust some of its contract policies. The department met with more than 50 vendors for input on structuring a request for proposals.

The annual cost of prison health care is nearly $300 million, according to the Associated Press. Health care costs have been increasing and are up by 40 percent from fiscal year 2003.

Reference:
"Health care in the big house," The Big Rapids Pioneer, Jan. 23, 2008


Belding contracts out ambulances

BELDING — After losing $137,000 in its ambulance services last year, the Belding City Council explored privatization possibilities and approved a contract with Life EMS, according to the Greenville Daily News.

"It's a result of not being able to afford our own ambulance service," City Manager Randy DeBruine told the Daily News, "We've tried a few things to keep it going and found ourselves not being able to afford it." The city will pay the company $26,505 a year for the service. The company is expected to start on April 15.

"The people shouldn't see a difference. The level of response times and destinations, everything will be the same as it was, other than the uniforms and the color of the ambulance," Life EMS operations manager Jani Millard told the Daily news.

References:
"Belding to privatize ambulance service," Greenville Daily News, Jan. 17, 2008
"Life EMS to Belding in April," Greenville Daily News, Jan. 29, 2008


Saginaw outsources finance while looking for new treasurer

SAGINAW — The city of Saginaw signed a contract with Plante & Moran to oversee the city's books while it looks for a new finance director. The council will pay the company $73,200 for the year. It also hired a firm to perform a search for a new finance director.

The previous director resigned and the city expects to name a new director in July.

Reference:
"City outsources finances temporarily," The Saginaw News, Jan. 29, 2008


Midland looks for options on municipal golf course

MIDLAND — At a February meeting of the Midland Parks and Recreation Commission, attendees brought up the possibility of hiring a private firm to manage the city's municipal golf course, according to the Midland Daily News. One of the items on the agenda was to raise green fees at the course.

The Currie Municipal Golf Course operated at a deficit of $356,150 last year, the Daily News reported. At the meeting, the commission moved to table the fee increase until it had more information.

The Midland Daily News editorialized that the city explore contracting with a private firm to manage the course.

References:
"Parks commission recommends council approve golf fees," Midland Daily News, Feb. 6, 2008
"Our View: City should consider private firm to run Currie," Midland Daily News, Feb. 11, 2008


Davison schools uses private custodial services for nighttime cleaning

DAVISON — The Davison board of education voted to hire D.M. Burr to provide nighttime cleaning services to the district, according to the Davison Index. None of the district's current employees will be let go, but instead will be moved to daytime custodian positions.

Cleaning schedules at several buildings had been reduced to less than once a day prior to the move. The district did not have enough staff to provide the services, as previous employees who retired or resigned were not replaced.

"We're actually going to get some services back, and we're not going to have to cut instructional services. Our first priority is teaching kids," school board President Kim Lindsay told the Index.

Reference:
"Board votes to privatize custodians" Davison Index, Feb. 13, 2008


Comstock Park looks to partially contract out custodial service

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP — In a 5-2 vote, the Comstock Park Public Schools board voted to seek bids for a single custodian position, according to The Grand Rapids Press. A custodian had recently retired and the district wanted to see if it could get some savings through using a private custodian.

The contracting will be for services to a single building in conjunction with the district's own workforce. While the request for proposals has yet to be finalized, the district expects bids to be due March 11.

Reference:
"Comstock Park: Board may privatize custodian job," The Grand Rapids Press, Jan. 29, 2008


Genesee County ISD outsources substitutes

GENESEE COUNTY — The Genesee County ISD contracted out its substitute teacher services with the Professional Education Services Group. Savings are expected to be passed on to individual districts. For instance, it is expected to save the Davison Community Schools between $40,000 and $50,000 annually, according to The Flint Journal.

"It saves school districts money, and it actually puts a little more money in the pockets of substitute teachers because they don't have to pay their contribution towards the retirement system," Davison Superintendent Clay Perkins told The Journal.

Reference:
"Privatizing Substitutes," The Flint Journal, Jan. 22, 2008


Southfield schools looking to contract out three noninstructional services

SOUTHFIELD — Southfield schools made requests for proposals for companies to take over its food, custodial and transportation services. The move is needed to overcome a projected $4.3 million deficit, according to The Detroit News.

Because schools are funded largely on a per-pupil basis, districts that are losing population see significant revenue declines. Southfield's enrollment decreased by 279 students from last year, which caused revenue to decline by nearly $3 million, according to the Southfield Eccentric.

The district currently employs 60 custodians, 17 lead custodians and 8 maintenance people. Bids are due on March 14 for both services.

The district took a unique step in contracting with the Oakland County ISD to review the proposals, according to the Detroit Free Press. The district will pay an amount not to exceed $50,000 to review the proposals and make recommendations to the school board.

References:
"Emotions, numbers fly at privatization hearing," The Southfield Eccentric, Dec. 20, 2007
"School district plans to privatize service jobs," The Detroit News, Jan. 21, 2008
"Southfield schools look for outside help in deciding on privatization," Detroit Free Press, Feb. 21, 2008


Holton schools outsources coaches

HOLTON — Holton Public Schools signed a contract with Professional Education Services Group to have PESG employ its non-teacher coaches. It allows the district to utilize the same people but save money because it will not have to provide contributions to the school employee retirement system.

"If our non-school employee coaches will not ever take advantage of the Michigan retirement system, why would we pay into it?" Superintendent John Fazer told The Muskegon Chronicle.

Reference:
"School coaches to work for private firm," The Muskegon Chronicle, Jan. 31, 2008


Niles schools take bids for transportation privatization

NILES — With a projected budget deficit between $750,000 and $1 million, the Niles Community Schools board of education is considering privatized transportation, according to the Niles Daily Star.

The district looked into this possibility for the 2004-05 school year, but decided to stick with its current employees once savings were seen to be small.

There are concerns about laying off the current district bus drivers, but the district said that all bus drivers be interviewed for positions and that the number of routes would stay the same.

Reference:
"Bus privatization revisited," Niles Daily Star, Feb. 20, 2008


Copper County ISD to study transportation contracting

HANCOCK — As part of the consolidation study mandated by a law passed in September, the Copper County ISD looked at the consolidation and privatization of all the county schools' transportation services, according to The Daily Mining Gazette.

"It probably will save a lot of money but it will also probably displace some people. It will be extremely controversial if we pursue it," ISD superintendent Dennis Harbour told the Mining Gazette.

Reference:
"Transportation consolidation a political football," The Daily Mining Gazette, Jan. 24, 2008



Michigan Privatization Digest is a service of the Michigan Privatization Report, a twice-yearly publication of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy with a circulation of more than 22,000. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is an independent, non-profit research institute located in Midland, Michigan.

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