July 24, 2016

Mostly cloudy

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.