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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Portland school nickel-dime: two school photos a year

A concerned reader copied us on an e-mail message she sent to the Portland school board yesterday. It read in part:

My daughter G. came home today with a flier notifying us that "Spring portraits are coming." As G. is a kindergartner, her first instinct was "Mom, something's happening at school, so we need to sign up." It is hard to explain to a 5-year-old why we would not sign up for round two of school photos (in the same year).

Initially I thought she was referring to make-up pictures. Then I read the flier from Dorian Photography letting us know a second picture day is coming to *** Elementary: "Spring Portraits"...

I must say, this marketing effort infuriates me, and shame on PPS for allowing it. I don't have to tell the board how much money parents in the district have to spend to raise funds for programs and opportunities that, once upon a time, were included as a part of a public education.

My husband and I make a point of supporting the school plant program, the dining for dollars program, the scrip program and all of the other ongoing fundraising efforts throughout the year which supplement our daughter's education. And there are many (dozens and dozens).

I will not be giving Dorian Photography money for a second round of school pictures. And I expect that next year, I will not be asked to to do.

Good luck with that.

Comments (10)

Dorian seems to have a lock on PPS photos, and have for years. I wonder if PPS has ever considered the competitive bid?

I sympathize. I moved away from my old high school's town nearly 30 years ago, and I don't have kids, but I constantly receive requests asking if I'm willing to contribute to pay for essential programs. They're not even offering anything in return: it's just pity party routines asking me "Won't you please think of the children?" Meanwhile, the school continues to pump more money into its football program, mostly on coaches who seem to think they're coaching the Dallas Cowboys and expect to be paid appropriately. I finally got them to stop billing and guilt-tripping me when I responded by mail "Certainly. In fact, I'd be willing to contribute a significant amount of money to old Lewisville High. What guarantee do I have that the money I put in will be matched with cuts to money going to the football team?" I have yet to get a response.

Meanwhile, when it comes to my local schools, oh hell yes I do my best to help out. I live in a poor district, the kids out here are sharp as whips, and I want to give something back.

Beaverton district has both fall and spring pics too. We just ignored the spring ones last week because our kid looks totally adorable in the ones from a few short months ago.

2 (voluntary) photos in the same year?!!! The outrage! #firstworldproblems

Give me a break. I roll my eyes at the pictures and flyers too, but always assumed it was parent-driven, in which case you just can't please all the people all of the time. Seems like a strange thing to trip the Outrage Meter; just don't buy the dumb things. By spring of kindergarten year surely it's about time for G. to be exposed to the idea that some things from school are suggestions rather than requirements.

When I was in elementary school in the 70s, we always had two picture days, too -- the springtime was for the group pictures. First world problems indeed.

It would be fun to file a Public Records Act request with PPS for the contract(s) with Dorian over the last 6 - 10 years, and all records of payments by Dorian to PPS or to individual PPS schools.

For extra laughs, ask PPS for its RFPs and copies of all solicitations to Dorian and any other supplier of similar services, and the responses received by PPS for the last 10 years.

Maybe Sarah Carlin Ames, in her last few weeks, could delay and spin any response.

I am so fed up!

I'm shocked, shocked!

My kids started attending a private school for the first time this year (thanks, Dad!). I was appalled after the first month when my son said this:

"Some of the kids in my class got big cookies today, but I didn't get anything."

It turns out the school encourages students to bring in Box Tops to raise money. If a child brings in enough Tops in a given month, he/she gets a reward during class. If the child doesn't bring in enough, they get NOTHING and have to watch the other kids eat their cookies.


Dorian does not have a contract with PPS. It is up to each individual school to determine their class photographer. Our school once used a parent's company. This is not a PPS (or school board) issue.

As to this being a fundraiser, it is not. It is a service provided and many families do not purchase the photography package. Some families like to have fall and spring photos, so each his or her own. And to the OP's statement of "dozens and dozens" of fundraisers, it may seem that way, but is obviously hyperbole.

As pointed out above, as a kindergarten parent, the OP will quickly learn what to ignore.

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