The privatization survey was conducted between May 14
and Sept. 3, 2010. The majority of survey responses were administered via telephone. Those
responding to the survey were superintendents, business managers, assistant
superintendents, administrative directors and administrative assistants.
Districts requesting that the survey be provided in written form or
administered through a Freedom of Information Act request were sent letters
requesting the information. All 551 public school districts in Michigan
responded to this year’s survey.
provided answers to a series of questions on their service providers. If a district began contracting out or brought a service back in-house, they
were asked follow-up questions, including the reasons for changing and expected
These districts were asked to provide documentation on
cost differences. Unfortunately, not all districts provided comprehensive
documentation, nor was the method of documenting these costs uniform across
districts. Where applicable, figures were annualized and estimated for the
first year of service provision. The districts’ published figures may not be
directly comparable to each other, but a cost accounting analysis of district
savings figures is beyond the scope of this survey.
Whether the district was new to contracting or had been
contracting for several years, the district was asked whether they were
satisfied with the services the private company has provided.
It is common for districts to only contract out part of
its services, whether through attrition as workers leave the job or whether for
the management of the service. Districts contracting out with private vendors
to provide normal services are included as having privatized services in this
survey, even if the majority of the service is provided by in-house staff.
However, districts contracting out special services support with private
contractors, such as for the cleaning of administrative buildings or for
special education busing, are not counted.
Our definition of privatization also includes districts
that contract out with employee leasing agencies.
Many districts contract with another district, their
intermediate district, municipal government or some other governmental agency.
These districts are not counted in the numbers because they are not contracting
to private companies.