Howell: MEA skewed truth on privatization

HOWELL, Mich. - Howell Public Schools officials said the Michigan Education Association intentionally distorted the truth when it published an article claiming the district did not save money by hiring a private firm for custodial services, according to the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus.

The "MEA Voice," a union magazine, said that the district spent about $360,000 more on operations and maintenance after privatization, but district officials said that dollar figure was skewed by including more than 30 line items in addition to custodial costs, the Press & Argus reported.

Interim Superintendent Lynn Parrish said that, "This is a distortion of the truth that the MEA has used as a weapon for other districts to stymie them from taking steps that may be necessary to take," the Press & Argus reported.

Parrish also said that the article doesn't account for one-time costs related to privatization, such as the insurance extensions and pension packages which were provided to former custodians.

In the 2008-2009 fiscal year, the district reported it saved a little less than $500,000 because it privatized custodial services.

A representative from the MEA had not yet been reached for comment on the story by Friday, though Jay McDowell, president of the Howell Education Association, told the Press & Argus that the local teacher's union was not involved with the article.

Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, "Howell school officials: Privatization was misrepresented," Aug. 21, 2009

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "A School Privatization Primer," June 26, 2007