Food service is the most frequently privatized support service among Minnesota schools, according to a report from The Mackinac Center for Public Policy. The study—Survey 2008: School Service Privatization Grows Again—found that 29.1% of the state’s districts report having contracted either management or operation of their foodservice program. That is actually down slightly from the 31.2% from the previous survey and the first decline in the six years the Mackinac Center has been surveying school support services privatization.
Overall, the study found that more than 42 percent of the 550 Minnesota conventional public school districts it surveyed contract out for at least one of the three primary noninstructional services: food, custodial and transportation. That is a 4.9% increase from 2007 as 10 districts began contracting at least one service in the past year. Custodial service privatization continued to show the highest year-over-year growth rate, expanding by 20.2% in the past year, to 17.6% of all districts.
Among individual districts, the study notes that the 8,800-student Southfield district estimates annual average per-pupil savings from privatization will range from $557 to $814, "by far, this is the largest per-pupil savings from privatization the Mackinac Center has ever seen," says one of the study’s authors, Michael LaFaive.