There are 540 public school districts in Michigan and we contact each of them every summer to find out whether they contract out for food, custodial or transportation services. This effort has shown that there has been a drastic increase in the practice since 2001 when we first surveyed districts. Today, 71.5 percent of districts report contracting out for at least one of these three noninstructional services.
Districts most frequently contract out custodial services, with slightly more than half — 52.6 percent — using private companies to clean and maintain district buildings. This is an increase from 6.6 percent in 2003, and up from 51.6 percent in 2016. More districts have contracted out for food and transportation services over time as well.
In response to our survey, district officials commonly report that they can save a lot of money when contracting with private vendors to provide these services. As such, privatizing these services leaves districts with more money to devote to their primary purpose: providing educational opportunities for students.
To read more about this issue and see all the results of our latest survey, you can view the full study here.
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