Satisfaction With Contracting

  • 217 districts (88.2 percent) were satisfied with their private contractors. 
  • 13 districts (5.3 percent) were unsure.
  • 14 districts (5.7 percent) did not answer.
  • Two districts (0.8 percent) were not satisfied with their services.

By and large, districts were satisfied with the services provided by contractors. This should not be surprising, as unsatisfied districts can end their contracts if they included no-cause clauses.

Some districts and contractors resolve their problems; two of the three districts that responded as unsatisfied in the 2008 survey now report being happy with their contractors. The other district, Richmond Community Schools, brought its food services back in-house, but also began contracting out for custodial services this year.

Dissatisfaction is fairly rare over the history of the survey. Reported satisfaction has remained in the 88 percent to 90 percent range in each of the past three surveys.

Graphic 5: Satisfaction From Outsourcing

Graphic 5: Satisfaction From Outsourcing - click to enlarge

Opponents of privatization have criticized self-reported satisfaction measures as improper for judging the performance of contractors. However, such measurements are prevalent in privatization literature. Surveys in Virginia and New Jersey and of large American cities have included self-reported satisfaction measures and generally found satisfaction with contractors.[*]

Moreover, satisfaction is an important part of any service provision. While school service decisions are largely made due to monetary concerns, the quality of service as judged by administrators and captured in satisfaction measures is an essential indicator of proper school management.

[*] Yost, Barry D. "Privatization of Educational Services by Contractual Agreement in Virginia Public Schools," Ed.D., Virginia Polytechnic University, 2000.

May, Kenneth P. "An Investigation into the Role of the Privatization of Non-Instructional Services Provided by New Jersey Public School Districts," Ed.D., Seton Hall, 1998.

Dilger, Robert Jay, Moffett, Randolph R., and Struyk, Linda. "Privatization of municipal services in America's largest cities," Public Administration Review, Vol. 57, 1. 1997.