Policy Study

Using Contractors to Cook, Clean, and Drive the Bus


From coast to coast, schools are using the powerful tool of competitive contracting to bring excellence and efficiency to every part of the education environment. A 1996 survey by the National School Boards Association found that 62 percent of school board members surveyed said they have considered contracting for school services.

To help school officials better take advantage of this emerging opportunity, the Reason Foundation hosted a conference in November 1995. Making Schools Work: Competitive Contracting for School Service attracted 140 participants from 19 states to Santa Barbara, California for the event. Edited transcripts from some of the most inspirational and informative presenters are printed on the following pages.

The Making Schools Work conference provided a forum for education officials to share their experience in contracting for services with their colleagues from other districts and other states. Beyond discussing the successes of competitive contracting, the Makings Schools Work co4erence also took on such nitty-gritty implementation issues as dealing with current employees, costing in-house services, and designing a dependable bidding system. A set of audiotapes of the complete conference are available from the Reason Foundation.

By taking advantage of the competitive efficiencies offered by private providers of services, schools have cut costs and eliminated wasteful spending. And by introducing accountability and expertise into school operations, the private sector has helped improve the quality of instructional and other programs for students.

-Janet R. Beales
Education Stuthes Program Director