Around the State

Contents of this issue:

  • Kalkaska Privatizes Custodial Work

  • Lakeview School District Privatizes Some Custodial Work

  • Enviro-Clean Services Rated in Jackson Survey

  • Contracting at Crossroads?

  • Northville Changes Garbage Contractor

Kalkaska Privatizes Custodial Work

KALKASKA — In a significant reversal, the Kalkaska Public School District has decided to privatize its custodial staff, according to the Feb. 2 edition of the Traverse City Record-Eagle. Michigan Privatization Report reported in its Winter 2005 edition that the school board had decided to keep custodial work in-house, in part because of concessions made by the janitors. MPR cautioned that "While the deal has not been completely finalized, it appears as though it will be."

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Instead, the union voted to reject the agreement it had previously made with the district. Kalkaska Public Schools’ business manager Mary Scobey told MPR that management was shocked by the union’s decision. The district’s administration thought they had a deal and had even begun living up to their end of the bargain by implementing practices such as the payment of bonuses.

The district has since decided to sign a custodial contract with Grand Rapids Building Service of Grand Rapids. The contract is expected to save Kalkaska more than $324,000 in its first full year.

Lakeview School District Privatizes Some Custodial Work

BATTLE CREEK — Custodial services at the new Lakeview High School in Battle Creek are now being provided by Hi-Tec Building Services. After winnowing prospective suppliers down to two candidates, the district selected the Jenison-based firm.

Lakeview School District anticipates outsourcing the service for 18 months, but the contract does include an option to extend the duration of the agreement. The contract is expected to save the district $250,000 to $300,000 over the 18-month period, according to the Battle Creek Enquirer.

School board President Jim Davis made it clear that the board had to consider the contracting option given the fiscal problems the district is facing.

The district will join the 8 percent of school districts in Michigan that outsource for custodial service to some degree. Of those districts, 90 percent have reported savings as a result of their decision to privatize. Custodial privatization is the most significant area of growth in district contracting, according to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s biennial survey of school district privatization. The survey, which was released last summer, can be found at

Enviro-Clean Services Rated in Jackson Survey

JACKSON — After a year of providing contracted custodial services to the Jackson Public Schools, Enviro-Clean, a Grand Rapids-based professional custodial service company, asked district officials to distribute a survey to principals across the district. The company wanted to collect data on its performance for use as a benchmark in a plan for continuous improvement. The survey asked administrators to rank the cleanliness of schools on a one to five scale, five being best.

The district reported average marks of 3.5, but those numbers may need to be qualified. Most administrators gave Enviro-Clean ratings better than 3.5, but low marks from only two buildings (one being a bus garage staffed by displaced custodians and their union counterparts) dragged the average lower. Enviro-Clean is responsible for 18 buildings in the district as part of its contract.

In December 2004 Enviro-Clean took over the custodial work for Jackson Public Schools with only six days notice, taking on maintenance workers and four full-time groundskeepers as well as scores of custodial positions. The company is not only responsible for keeping the grounds and buildings clean, but also does all the setting up and tearing down of school related events (chairs, tables, garbage bins) as part of its standard contract price. The agreement is expected to save the district more than $1.3 million annually.

Contracting at Crossroads?

GENESEE TWP — According to a Dec. 9 article in the Flint Journal, a consultant hired by Genesee County to examine the regional impact of Crossroads Village has concluded that the facility "packs a punch worth more than $1.6 million annually." The study was inspired in part by the fact that Crossroads has been a major drain on the county parks budget. It required a $1.2 million subsidy in 2004, according to the Flint Journal.

Crossroads Village is a 50-plus acre park site that maintains historic buildings and "shops dating back to the 1800s." It also contains a railroad, old-fashioned riverboat cruises, and various programs about early American life.

The study claims that Crossroads creates spin-off employment in local establishments to the tune of 47 full-time jobs. As part of the analysis, the consultant was asked to consider whether or not "privatization of some services [in the village] makes sense." The county has shown no interest in privatizing the village itself, but may consider outsourcing management of its food services. A "Request for Proposal" is being prepared, and county officials hope to find an efficient, qualified vendor to take over by the summer season.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy has addressed government recreation and competitive contracting in the past. For an entire edition of the Michigan Privatization Report dedicated to the subject, point your browser to "Entertaining Privatization" at

Northville Changes Garbage Contractor

NORTHVILLE TWP — Northville Township will end its 20-year relationship with garbage collector Painter & Ruthenberg, according to the Jan. 6 edition of The Detroit News. The official transition date is Feb. 20. Township managers had received many complaints about the company’s performance and have chosen to switch contractors in an attempt to improve services.

The township chose Allied Waste Services to take over garbage collection, and has signed a $5.5 million agreement to provide services for 5 years, according to The News.

For more on refuse collection contracting see "Detroit Could Collect Savings from Privatized Garbage Pick-up" at or "Is there Gold in Garbage" at

Around the State is a service of the Michigan Privatization Report, a twice-yearly publication of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy with a circulation of more than 22,000. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is an independent, non-profit research institute located in Midland, Michigan.