News Release: Public School Support Service Privatization Increases 5.4 Percent in Michigan

Troy Community Schools projects $310 per-pupil savings from contracting out for food, custodial and transportation services

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2009
Contact: James Hohman
Fiscal Policy Analyst

MIDLAND - The number of public school districts in Michigan contracting out for support services increased 5.4 percent in 2009, according to James Hohman, fiscal policy analyst at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. The Center's 2009 privatization survey shows that 246 districts, or 44.6 percent, now contract out for food, custodial or transportations services, up from 42.4 percent in 2008.

 "Privatization has increased every year since we began keeping track of these figures in 2003," said Hohman, who has overseen the survey for several years. "At least 10 districts each year begin using support service contracting, and 13 districts began contracting this year."

Custodial service contracting grew 14.2 percent from last year. There are now 111 districts that use private companies to clean or maintain buildings. Transportation contracting grew from 32 districts to 38 districts, which is almost double from the 20 districts that reported contracting for transportation in 2005.

Food service increased 0.4 percent, but that area of contracting remains the largest of the three main noninstructional services, with 162 districts contracting out for food service management or operation.

Troy Community Schools, which began new contracts for all three services in 2009, expects to save $3.8 million in just the first year. That is an effective funding increase of $310 per-pupil, which is significant since the Legislature is considering cutting state aid by $110 per student.

"As the state Legislature continues to talk about school funding, districts across Michigan can save millions of dollars by privatizing non-core functions," Hohman said. "That's money that can be directed where it should be — into the classroom — and spent on things like textbooks, computers and teacher salaries."

All 551 public school districts in Michigan cooperated with Mackinac Center researchers conducting this year's survey, marking the third time since 2003 that a 100 percent response level has been reached.

More details on the survey are available at For more information on school privatization in Michigan, visit