Privatization of support services has been a method
that Michigan school districts have used for several years to lower costs. More
than ever before, Michigan school districts are privatizing the three main
support services they offer — food, custodial and transportation. Our annual
survey finds that 48.8 percent of Michigan school districts are
contracting out for these services. This is an 8 percent increase over
The largest impetus for contracting is cost savings.
The survey found that first-year contracts alone are expected to save districts
$16.7 million cumulatively.
The Mackinac Center has surveyed Michigan public school
districts about their use of private contracts since 2001 and annually since
2005. More and more each year, districts contract out to save money. They also
consistently report satisfaction with the contracts they have in place.
New to the 2010 survey is a question on shared
services. House Bill 6488 has been introduced that would establish a shared
services commission to study district consolidation and allow the state
superintendent to force consolidation. But there had not been a comprehensive
list of the services that districts are currently sharing and the advantages of
those arrangements. The 2010 survey found that a majority of districts share at
least one service, with frequent sharing among business, transportation,
technology and food services.
The survey is a centralized source for data regarding
the growth, cost savings and satisfaction of Michigan school districts use of
private contractors. The survey has documented the steady trend towards
privatization of school support services.