GRAND RAPIDS — Ionia County’s Lakewood School District met on March 13 to hear public comments on a proposal to privatize custodial services, according to Grand Rapids-based WOOD-TV. This was apparently just one step in a series that could have ultimately led to privatization. The district, however, decided to keep services in-house after reaching an agreement with its custodial bargaining unit. The agreement provided budget savings that made privatization unnecessary.

Prior to that agreement, however, the school board had accepted bids for a three-year contract to provide custodial services, according to the Hastings Banner in Hastings, Mich. The board was scheduled to interview companies interested in winning a custodial contract between March 27 and March 30, the Banner reported.

According to the specifications laid out by the district and reported by the Hastings Banner, privatized custodians:

  • Must not have relatives or other personal visitors at the site;

  • Must not consume food or beverages while on duty;

  • Must not smoke or drink alcoholic beverages while on duty;

  • Must not receive or initiate personal calls from Lakewood phones;

  • Must not play radios or other sound equipment a [sic] loud level; and

  • Must not fraternize with Lakewood Public School staff, clients, tenants or visitors to the building nor unnecessarily disrupt tenants from their work while performing contractual duties.

The privatization option generated controversy in the community, stirring up anti-privatization protests, placards, and Op-Eds and letters in local newspapers. There was even a community petition circulating that included the signatures of two school board members.

Custodial service is a rapidly growing area of non-instructional privatization in the state of Michigan.