SPOA executive director questions mandatory rebate policy

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David Crandall, the executive director of the School Photographers of America (SPOA), was featured in the Charlotte Observer when he questioned a policy by the
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) district mandates a profit on student picture packages as a fundraising tactic.

David Crandall, executive director, School Photographers of America

Crandall said a CMS board policy mandates school pictures and yearbooks be treated as fundraisers and forces school principals to ensure at least a 20% profit on packages. CMS officials say the regulation is there to protect families and extra money goes toward each school.

“Crandall, whose duties include protecting the industry from ‘unhealthy’ business practices, says over the course of last year he’s received concerns from yearbook and picture companies about CMS’ policy,” according to the article.

Crandall wants the “rare across the country” policy, which he calls said is unfair and inequitable, to be changed. Crandall, who is based in Greensboro, says he knows of no other U.S. county or district that has a policy specifically naming school photos and yearbooks as mandatory fundraisers.

Charles Jeter, CMS executive director of government affairs, policy and board services countered: “I can assure you Mr. Crandall’s No. 1 concern is not for the students and families in CMS. I can tell you his concern is to ensure the photo companies make a profit. We have regulations in place to ensure our families are getting the best prices, and that every penny the schools make stays with the schools.”

According to Crandall, the use of school photo rebates as fundraisers is a common, but declining, offering in school portraits. What is unusual is the mandate by CMS that school photos must be fundraising endeavors.

According to the Charlotte Observer, The school board policy referencing student fundraising activities, which was originally adopted in 1979 and revised in October 2022, says schools should profit no less than 20% of gross retail sales of school photos or yearbooks. Vendors also must include a minimum photo package priced at $10, and include a choice of backgrounds, picture size and package combination, according to the policy.

[Editorial disclosure: SPOA is a client of InfoCircle LLC, the publisher of the Dead Pixels Society.]