A Guide to Contracting Out School Support Services: Good for the School? Good for the Community?

March 31, 2008

Contracting out—-using private contractors to provide support services—-has received increasing attention in the nation’s public schools. In a climate promoting market models and privatization, the increasing popularity of school choice and education management organizations has encouraged countless vendors to attempt privatizing a wide array of public school services. The largest and most visible efforts have targeted food, transportation and custodial services. International and national megacorporations are increasingly consolidating the food services and transportation industries, in particular. This paper reviews critical considerations for school officials considering contracting out. These include hidden costs, quality control, impact on administrative time, social costs, and loss of control and restricted flexibility.