More schools move to private bus services

By MICHAEL KRANSZ
Capital News Service
LANSING — The number of Michigan school districts contracting out at least a part of their transportation services increased 150 percent from 2010 to 2014, according to a think tank survey. The survey by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Midland recorded 78 school districts opting for some privatized transportation services during that time, in addition to 53 already contracting out. There are about 540 districts in the state, according to the Department of Education. And while some districts are contracting out only a portion of the service, such as employment, most are privatizing their whole bus operation, said James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy at the center. Michigan School Business Officials Associate Executive Director Scott Little said the switch to privatized transportation services took off shortly after the Great Recession began in late 2007, largely as an effort to recoup money lost from declining student populations and state funding.

Institute publishes school superintendents’ salaries

By Cody Harrell
Mason Times staff writer

MASON—A report on school superintendent compensation in Michigan shows a range of $300,000. The collection was published in late February 2013 by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Media Relations Manager Ted O’Neil said that the purpose of the database was to provide transparency for taxpayers who were concerned with the distribution of funds by school boards and superintendents. O’Neil said that superintendent compensation is determined can be affected by a number of factors that are worked out between the superintendent and school board members. Although compensation is not required outside of salary and pension, many districts offer annuity, health benefits, insurance, travel and other expenses.

Cigarette smuggling up, Mackinac Center says

BY EDITH ZHOU
Capital News Service
LANSING –Almost 30 percent of the cigarettes smoked in Michigan are smuggled into the state or bought online, the 10th highest rate in the country, according to a new report. The report came from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Midland. The center is a free market research and think tank. However, the State Police can’t confirm that 29 percent and the department said it has no estimate of its own. “Their report does not indicate how they arrived at this figure,” said Shanon Banner, the manager of public affairs at the Michigan State Police.