Gov. Jennifer Granholm has encouraged school districts
to share services with each other, and Rep. Tim Melton has introduced House
Bill 6488 that would create a commission that can mandate service
consolidation. This year’s survey checked on whether districts have been
sharing services without additional prompting from state government. The survey
found that Michigan school districts share a wide range of services.
Food services are a
commonly shared service, with 52 districts participating in food purchasing
blocks or by sharing a food service manager. Okemos Public Schools, for
instance, shares a food service manager with Springport Public Schools.
Portions of transportation services are also frequently
shared, with 124 districts reporting that they share facilities and services.
Districts often share their bus garages with other districts and split repair
costs. Others work with each other and their ISDs to transport athletes, take
students to special events, and provide
special education. Bloomingdale Public Schools, for instance, contracts
out for bus maintenance with Gobles Public Schools.
Shared technology services are also commonplace, with
85 school districts sharing network maintenance, software purchasing,
infrastructure, or technology supervisors.
Many school districts also work with each other in a
number of business services, including sharing a business manager or chief
financial officer, accounting services, principals, superintendents, labor
agreement negotiators, secretaries and payroll services. Districts also
frequently join together to get discounts on purchases and to lower transaction
costs. There were 146 districts that reported sharing some of their business
Other services shared with districts are special
education services, psychologists and counselors, maintenance staff, among
several others. Sharing services allows smaller districts to tap specialists
that it might not be able to employ by itself. The Kaleva Norman Dickson School District and Bear Lake Public Schools share a
part-time speech aid and a special education aid.
Districts have largely shared services when the
opportunity arises. However, few districts reported that they use another
district or an ISD to provide for all technology, business, food or