April 21, 2014

Partly sunny

Photographer to Medina school board: Rebate is too high

MEDINA — A North Olmsted photographer says the Medina school board is demanding too much of a rebate on school picture sales.

Patrick Rice, president of the Society of Northern Ohio Professional Photographers, took issue with the district’s requirement of a 40 percent reimbursement on photo sales from school picture contracts, for both the prekindergarten through grade 11 students and senior pictures.

­“That 40 percent is going to be tacked onto the cost of pictures that your parents are paying,” Rice said at Monday’s school board meeting. “This is a tax on the parents for buying pictures and the photographers look bad by doing things like this.”

Rice said other districts ask for between 20 and 30 percent reimbursement.

“We feel even that’s too high,” he said.

Rice added that Wang Photographic Imaging, the Worthington company awarded the contract Monday for prekindergarten through 11th grade school photos, agreed to reimburse the district $2 per student, whether the student buys photos or not.

“Again, photographers can’t absorb that cost,” he said. “It’s going to get passed along in pricing” to the parents.

Jim Shields, the district’s legal counsel, said the money from the reimbursement goes into the principal’s fund at each school building, which is required by law be spent to benefit students in the buildings.

“We have traditionally had a 40 percent commission for as long as I can research it back,” he said. “Fewer parents are buying school pictures.”

Shields said principals did not want to come down from the 40 percent reimbursement.

He also noted that under the contract with Wang Photographic Imaging, the cost for pictures will be less than the company the school now works with.

“When I talked to other schools and other photography companies, they range from 20 to 40 percent,” Shields said. “It is another fundraiser for our buildings.”

In addition to the contract with Wang Photographic Imaging, the board Monday also awarded the contract for senior pictures to Woodard Photography by Life Touch.

Bill Grenfell was the only board member to vote against the contracts.

“I understand it goes back into our principal fund, but 40 percent is going to keep kids from having pictures,” Grenfell said.

Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com.

  • artemis

    Fewer parents are buying pictures because they are too expensive! Yes, it’s convenient and there’s some pressure to buy them, but you can get much better pics for less money at Sears or Penney’s. There were a number of years I didn’t buy my kids’ school pictures because I couldn’t afford them.

  • Ross Gallor

    That’s clearly an inappropriate step from school management. I am a professional photographer myself and i know the value of photographs for parents. Every one has not that financially sound background to afford such prices, it should be stopped right now.n——————————nnRoss Gallor from Jefferson Studios Bristolnhttp://www.jeffersonstudios.co.uk/

  • Resident

    I understand if graduation pictures are higher costs but the prices for regular school pictures that go in the yearbook are expensive for what it is. I think the school needs to take a hard look at all the costs, including the multiple “fundraisers” they expect parents to fork money over. We had so many this spring, just couldn’t keep up with it. The magazine sale is a joke, nobody, including ourselves, would ever pay the full subscription rates their “sale” is demanding when Read for the Cure comes at the same time asking half that amount. It would be downright embarrassing to send my kids out to try to sell that. The district seems to think that parents have endless disposable income for these things, when many parents can’t even afford a month of school lunch.

  • Jack

    You don’t need a professional photographer to capture these images. Be smart. Engage a high school student and utilize the camera equipment you already own.

  • LT

    Rice is just mad he didn’t get the contract

  • LT

    Nothing says you have to buy them and they stated they got cheaper packages than the previous company. We should be happy that school looks for a company to get the job done.

  • Dave

    How can Wang afford it and others can’t sounds like you need a new business plan?

  • Tedd

    Who is we? Who are the other companies??

  • Craig

    Was any research done before this was written? One board member against, so that means they picked the wrong company. What about the other board members who approved it. Sounds like they did their job, looked into some companies and picked the best one. Who were the other companies that said it was to high. Did they bid for the business?

  • MO

    Picked the best one? Wang’s equivalent of the same package I’ve always gotten was almost double this year! Raising funds this way just adds to the bitterness.

  • Lt

    All schools raise funds through pictures

  • B Ripc

    The last company was doing the same thing. They just weren’t giving back the services they said they would. That’s why they lost the business

  • MO

    Did you miss the part where the price for my usual package was about 40% higher this year after being fairly stable for years, even with Ohio School Pictures, not just LifeTouch? Strong arming parents by price gouging on school pictures at this rate does not sit well with me at all. That’s okay, I’m adjusting the price difference by adjusting my walk-a-thon donation accordingly.

  • Lt

    Ohio school pictures is gone and life touch was screwing up. So you want to pay for bad service. If they didn’t charge 40 percent, they would have to rent the space in the school.

  • MO

    What? I don’t care how you are slicing it here but $42 for a $26 dollar package is outrageous and it’s clear to me either the school is asking too much of a profit or the it’s the photographer. You can see by this very article how this played out. I had to decide whether or not to give pictures to the grandparents and other family this year to stay within the previous budget. I decided to go ahead and order the usual package and not give the “suggested donation” to the walk-a-thon. It’s all going in the same pot principal’s fund so they got the rest via school pictures if that’s the way they want to play it now. But this incident has left a bad taste in my mouth and has suppressed any previous feelings of generosity toward the schools by inflating the price of school pictures. Not a way to do business.

  • LT

    So you want a company that charges 26 dollars and then doesn’t provide the service they promised the school. You have the right to request the bids that were submitted to the schools. It’s public knowledge

  • MO

    What “service” did they not provide? We all received our pictures and yearbooks. How is that any excuse to inflate those prices? The school ought to forget “fundraising” this or taking a lower cut like the photographer in the article suggested that other schools take instead of sticking it to the parents. Nice. No wonder everyone is fed up with this school district, another fine example of their mentality.

  • Lt

    Lets see Garfield elem. was told in may that they would receive there yearbook until next year. That was a service not provided. Photo ID cards where messed up at the high school. Just a couple but the list goes on.

  • Lt

    Yearbook not until

  • MO

    Your post didn’t go through but it is of no matter. So there was a mess-up with LifeTouch after some years of service with them. Still no excuse for the school to overcharge so they can get the cut they want. Bill Grenfell was the only one who got it right:nn’Bill Grenfell was the only board member to vote against the contracts.nn”I understand it goes back into our principal fund, but 40 percent is going to keep kids from having pictures,u201d Grenfell said.”nnSo that additional kick-back Wang offered was too tempting no matter at what cost to parents- which is where it’s all coming from. As far as I’m concerned, Wang did a crappy job, too, the class photos are tiny with no names on it. So, yeah, thanks Medina City Schools for inflating the costs and an inferior product.nnnnYou can stop trying to defend the indefensible.

  • LT

    Is the school board going to look at other companies?