In 2017, 386 of Michigan’s 540 conventional school districts contracted out for food, custodial or transportation services, which is 71.5 percent of districts. This is an increase from 2016 when 70.6 percent of districts contracted out for at least one of the services and a substantial increase from 2001 when only 31 percent of districts did.

Custodial services are more frequently contracted out than food or transportation services. In 2017, 52.6 percent of districts used private sector vendors to clean and maintain district buildings and property. This is an increase from 51.6 percent in 2016 and up from only 6.6 percent in 2003.

The proportion of districts contracting out food services remained steady in 2017, with 43.3 percent of districts using a private provider to prepare and serve meals to students. Contracting out these services has remained above 40 percent since 2015 and is up from 27.3 percent in 2003.

After a small decline in 2016, more districts are again using private sector contractors to provide transportation services. In 2017, 26.1 percent of districts contracted out regular transportation services with private companies, up from 25.5 percent of districts in 2016. But this is a much smaller increase in the proportion of districts that contract out this service. From 2008 to 2015, transportation contracting increased from 6 percent to 25.6 percent.

Graphic 1: Percentage of School Districts Contracting Out
for Noninstructional Services, 2001, 2003, 2005-2017

Graphic 1: Percentage of School Districts Contracting Out for Noninstructional Services, 2001, 2003, 2005-2017 - click to enlarge

*Data were not collected in 2002 and 2004.