The Gasconade County R-1 School District board Thursday night split on a voice vote in approving a 3-year contract for student photography service by Wagner Studios.
The action — which saw Director Mark Brooks, supporting Fricke Studios, cast the lone dissenting vote against the motion — came only moments after Brooks questioned the validity of an online survey of parents that showed overwhelming support for Wagner Studios’ proposal.
Superintendent Tracey Hankins told the board that 83 parents responded to the survey — which was available only to parents of R-1 students and not member of the community at large. Of those, 58 supported Wagner and 25 favored Fricke.
Brooks questioned the size of the response. “This seems like a fairly small sample,” he said, referring to the 83 responses. He told the other board members that he interpreted the law number of responses to be indicative of a lack of displeasure with Fricke Studios, which has had the photography contract.
But his skepticism of the number of responses wasn’t shared by the other directors.
“I think it was good to go and get input from stakeholders,” said Dot Schoennig. “To me, it’s a no-brainer.”
Jeff Englers, who last month cast his vote for Wagner’s proposal, said the results only solidified his support for the St. Louis-based studio. “I’m going to have to stick with what I had last time,” he said.
Board President Becky Whithaus, who last month voted for the Fricke Studio proposal, said the difference in level of parental support of the two proposals caught her off-guard. “I was surprised by the results,” she said.
Aside from Brooks’ dissenting vote, Director Kevin Stiers abstained. All other directors voted in favor of the Wagner Studio proposal.
After the board deadlocked on the issue last month, Hankins tried to broker an agreement between the studios and indeed offered a formal recommendation to split the photography services with Wagner providing the student portraits and Fricke providing special-event photography, such as sports, graduation, Prom and other events.
But the board decided to keep all photo services intact.