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Case Study: Dexter High School

Organization Profile: Dexter High School, located in Dexter, Michigan, is one of the premier public high schools in the state and serves approximately 1,200 students in grades nine through 12. The mission of the school is to provide a quality educational program for all students, which it achieves by offering a rich curriculum, with high-quality instruction. Additionally, by fostering a positive and progressive learning community, the staff at Dexter High School strives to make students' high school years both meaningful and memorable.

Summary: Thanks to contributions from SchoolPictures.com, cash-strapped Dexter High School has been able to support its student mentoring program, hold a staff retreat to kick off the school year, sustain school spirit activities and reward students after a job well-done on state testing. SchoolPictures.com, a student photography company, generates high-quality, easy-to-order photos for Dexter High School students while supplementing funding for the school during tight budget seasons.

For years, schools nationwide have been enduring increased budget cuts and staff reductions, forcing them to find alternative ways to supplement their budgets. Upon taking over the role of principal at Dexter High School in Dexter, Michigan, in 2006, Kit Moran was faced with just that challenge, leading him to hire SchoolPictures.com as his school's portrait vendor. The relationship has proved exceedingly beneficial, generating thousands of dollars in contributed funding from the company.

SchoolPictures.com is a Michigan-based firm that supplements funding for education to improve the academic environment for children, while providing parents and students with high-quality, affordable pictures. Money contributed by SchoolPictures.com is generated from the sales of student portrait packages. In the four years since its founding, SchoolPictures.com has donated more than $2 million to schools like Dexter High School all across the state of Michigan.

During the next couple of years and as a result of additional pending budget cuts, Moran anticipates he will have to use the money generated by SchoolPictures.com to purchase specific, needed items, as opposed to the ancillary items he has been able to use the money for in the past. Knowing he can rely on SchoolPictures.com to contribute significant funds every year is reassuring to Moran — so much so that he feels comfortable moving forward with the implementation of a new book security system in the school's media center, which will require ongoing costs over the years.

“Schools in Michigan are struggling and only have a limited amount of discretionary spending money. All of the money in the district's budget is already earmarked for necessary purchases to keep the school running,” said Moran. “From an administrative standpoint, it's great to be able to have that extra money from SchoolPictures.com there and to have the flexibility to use it for special projects that wouldn't otherwise receive funding.”

In the past, Dexter High School has used the money generated with SchoolPictures.com for a variety of projects and events to improve the student experience and school environment including:

  • Purchasing t-shirts for a student mentoring program that paired seniors with freshman to help the younger students settle into high school life
  • Sponsoring a staff retreat at the local YMCA, including training, transportation and lunch, to kick off the new school year
  • Rewarding students with an ice cream social after successful completion of state standardized testing
  • Purchasing items to promote school spirit and support the student sections at football and basketball games

“I admit that I was skeptical at first, but I liked the idea of SchoolPictures.com putting money back into the hands of schools,” said Moran. “I wondered what the catch was, but decided that we didn't have anything to lose. And I was right. I remember SchoolPictures.com coming with the first check on picture day, and I thought, 'Whoa!' People don't usually do that.”

Moran said he has been extremely impressed with the large amounts of money his school has received from SchoolPictures.com. In its time working with SchoolPictures.com, Dexter High School has received $28,000 from the company, far exceeding any amount ever collected from the school's previous portrait vendor.

SchoolPictures.com is able to provide a much larger return on investment to its customers because it has low processing costs and it takes less of a profit than most portrait companies. Since launching in the fall of 2005, SchoolPictures.com has accepted a fixed fee for each purchased photo package and given the remainder of the cost of these packages directly to the schools it works with.

“In this tough time, when people are willing and able to help us out and when we can count on them to come through on what they promise, we really appreciate it,” said Moran. “SchoolPictures.com is a great company to work with.”

Moran also praises SchoolPictures.com for making school picture day, which Dexter High School conducts in the summer, quick and easy. With plenty of photographers, students never have to stand in line and the entire event lasts only a few hours. Further, the company's efficient online ordering process enables parents to order their child's photos from home, leaving Moran and his staff with little work beyond providing a location for the pictures to be taken.

As for what he would tell schools who are looking for a new portrait vendor or considering partnering with SchoolPictures.com, Moran said he could not imagine a company coming along with anything better to offer.