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    A new bill that would seemingly facilitate the privatization of Michigan school district's non-instructional services has been recommended for passage by the House Education Committee. House Bill 4306, introduced February 22, 2011, by Rep. David Agema (R), requires school districts to seek competitive bids for non-instructional school services; in its original form, the bill would have required school districts to privatize non-instructional services. Therefore, the bill was revised, and that form was recommended for passage by the House Education Committee on Wednesday, March 23. Naturally, the revised bill will be the form analyzed for this article. .

    The bill requires public school districts to seek competitive bids for non-instructional services starting July 1, 2012. I.e., the governing board of a school district, an intermediate school district, or a charter school that directly employs personnel to provide custodial, transportation, or food services must obtain competitive bids for the provision of these services. The bill permits school districts to obtain these services from its employees if the school district sought competitive bids for the services and the costs are competitive; otherwise, school districts may seek bids from any person or entity.

    Moreover, the bill attempts to render the process transparent. The bill requires a school district to post every bid on its website within ten days of the deadline for submissions. This is intended to allow the public to inspect the bids. Furthermore, within thirty days of entering into or renewing a contract or collective bargaining agreement, the school district must identify on its website the bid chosen or other actions. As an aside, the bill also encourages contractors that provide food services to use fresh and local foods. This is consistent with the Farm-to-School Procurement Act.

    Notwithstanding, the bill allows for certain exemptions:

    • A contract of less than the threshold amount provided under Section 1267 for
    competitive bidding, as adjusted each year;

    • The provision of food services, if the revenues that the school district or charter
    school received from its food service program exceeded the costs of the operation
    of the program, as determined for the most recent school fiscal year for which the
    data were available; or

    • An administration function in support of a service described above, if that
    function was normally carried out at a different administrative level than the
    actual provision of the service, such as planning, routing, or training.

    The bill is the culmination of a trend of privatization in Michigan. As noted by the bill's supporters, Michigan school districts have increasingly outsourced non-instructional services; read this article on the Michigan Policy Network for an analysis of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy's study on privatization. While this bill only requires competitive bidding, it will assuredly facilitate this trend. The Michigan Policy Network will follow the progress of this bill and post updates when available.

    Sources:

    Original Text of HB 4306

    House Education Committee Summary of Orginal Bill

    Legislative Analysis of Revised Bill HB 4306 (H-4)

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    About Us

    The Michigan Policy Network is a student-led public education and research program to report and organize news and information about the political process surrounding Michigan state policy issues. It is run out of the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University, with participation by students from the College of Social Science, the College of Communication, and James Madison College. 

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    Meet your Policy Fellow: Andy Chou and Andrew Revard

    Andy Chou and Andrew Revard are Education Policy Correspondents for the Michigan Policy Network. Andy is a first-year student in Economics at Michigan State University. Andrew is a senior in Political Science at MSU.