School District Calls Out MEA on Bogus Privatization Claims

One school district in Michigan is setting the record straight on privatization after the Michigan Education Association claimed that the district’s outsourcing of janitorial services didn’t save money and actually cost more. Not so says the Howell School District, per WHMI:

In their August newsletter, the MEA said that the district�s total operations and maintenance budget had actually decreased almost $25,000 in the 2006-2007 school year, which was the last year before it privatized its custodians. The following year, it showed a nearly $360,000 increase and insinuated that privatization had failed to produce the savings that had been promised.

Interim [Howell Public School district] Superintendent Lynn Parrish blasted the MEA�s assertions, which she says have been very misleading as they reflect the entire maintenance budget of the district instead of just the janitorial budget. Associate Superintendent for Finance, Rick Terres, said the MEA article was misleading as it totally avoided mentioning the fact that the 07-08 year was the first year the district had to pay for operation and maintenance costs on Parker High School.

Parrish added that the teachers themselves benefited from the privatization, as the money saved on janitorial services was used to give the teachers a 1% raise in the past school year. A public relations spokeswoman for the MEA tells WHMI that the figures are self-reported by the district and you have to look at the entire operations and maintenance comparison. She says the bottom line is that the district is still spending more than it did before privatizing.

What a dumb assertionââ?¬â?evaluating an aggregated budget as a proxy for a narrow spending subset within. I have to assume that education professionals are smarter than that, making it then blatantly obvious that MEA is just trying to move the goal posts to an absurd spot to try and “prove” a point they otherwise couldn’t if they were concerned with intellectual honesty.

If the public sector’s doing such a good job, then why are they always so hesitant to let themselves be compared with the private sector on an apples-to-apples basis?

The district’s full rebuttal is here. And for the latest snapshot of the world of non-instructional school services outsourcing, see the discussion in the Education & Child Welfare section of Reason Foundation’s Annual Privatization Report 2009.