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The Politics of Contracting out in School Districts: The Case of Washington State

Thomas Pallesen
State & Local Government Review
Vol. 38, No. 1 (2006), pp. 34-40
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4355414
Page Count: 7
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The Politics of Contracting out in School Districts: The Case of Washington State
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Abstract

It is often presumed that state and local governments contract out services in order to address budget shortfalls. In this study of public school districts in Washington state, however, results show that districts with stronger fiscal balances are more likely to contract out services than those experiencing fiscal stress. The study finds that teaching salaries as a share of the budget appear to be unaffected by the level of contracting out. It may be, therefore, that school districts find it politically desirable to absorb uncertainty during more solvent times by using slack or last-minute projected surpluses to cover spending for contracting out auxiliary services that can easily be reduced later without affecting staff. This notion of providing a buffer in the budget has implications for the public sector at large.

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