The Mackinac Center for Public Policy chose to start surveying Michigan school districts about their use of private companies in providing noninstructional support services in 2001. A survey of about half the districts in the state was conducted that year, and in 2003 the survey was expanded to include nearly all districts. The Center was interested in learning to what extent districts were using this policy option to save money, keep more dollars in the classroom and prevent unnecessary debt acquisition or tax increases.
The Center also wanted to gauge the impact of an important piece of legislation passed about a decade earlier: Public Act 112 of 1994. It modified a 30-year-old law concerning what public employers were required to bargain over with government unions. PA 112 prohibited public employers, such as school districts, from bargaining over the “decision of whether or not to contract with a third party for 1 or more noninstructional support services.”[*] This gave district officials strong control over whether or not they would contract out for school support services.
[*] MCL § 423.215(3)(f).