Make art, Make a Difference
Making a difference with art
Art show encourages campaign for more state aid
Art can move and inspire, and the hope now is for some original artwork to make a difference in the amount of state aid received by Port Chester.
The Make Art, Make a Difference initiative was a call to action for all creative students throughout the district. In an effort to bring attention, and ultimately dollars, to district programs, the PTA at King Street School developed what they hoped would be a way to help make that happen.
Make Art, Make a Difference invited students to submit an original piece of art. Two were selected by a panel of judges with the images printed on a postcard. During an exhibit of all the submitted work on March 18 at King Street School, the community was invited to sign one of the postcards, which contained a pre-written note to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, encouraging him to increase Foundation Aid funding to the district.
“We came up with a pro-active approach,” King Street School PTA co-president Jody Helmle said.
“This is our first time trying this,” added Jill Geller, fellow PTA co-president and art therapist.
“Part of art therapy is about community building. We were encouraging people to be creative.” Ms. Geller said.
There were 79 submissions from students throughout the district, and they were all part of the display at KSS. Port Chester Mayor Richard “Fritz” Falanka, State Sen. Shelley Mayer and state Assemblyman Steven Otis were the judges.
Park Avenue School fifth-grader Jazlyn Flores was one of two winners to have their artwork made into a postcard.
“I was surprised, excited,” Jazlyn said when she learned her work had been selected.
“Really, art is my thing,” Jazlyn said, adding that her school was her inspiration.
In her piece, Jazlyn drew a winking owl saying, “I (heart) Park Avenue School!” The owl is standing in front of the words “I (heart) Port Chester!” in an array of colors, including red, yellow, purple and pink.
Gianna Sirena, a fourth-grader at King Street School, was the other winner.
Her piece uses the words “King Street School!!” as a centerpiece. They are surrounded by other words, including “Rocks” and “Roar,” and depict images of school supplies such as books and pencils, and a small group of adults and children.
“It seemed like a good chance to maybe be a winner,” Gianna said as to why she decided to enter the art contest. “I’m happy I did.”
Gianna said she was inspired by her school and wanted to show confidence and “that school can be fun.”
The pre-written message on the card states, in part, “As a resident of Port Chester-Rye USFD, I call upon you to establish equitable Foundation Aid funding to our schools.” The card notes how the district was funded at “less than 50 percent of the Foundation Aid allocation formula,” which was then frozen for the 2007-08 school year, while the state average Foundation Aid funding is 80 percent, with some districts receiving considerably more.
The card also notes how enrollment has increased since 2007-08, and is up by 845 students. As many as 73 percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunch, and 31 percent require ELL services.
Due to the decrease in Foundation Aid, the card says the district has had to increase class size and eliminate or reduce educational programs and positions.
“We project a $2.9 million budget deficit for 2019-20,” the card states. “We need additional Foundation Aid now.”
Ms. Geller was going to hand-deliver the cards that had been signed at the art show to the state capital. Other cards have been distributed throughout the schools in the district, and parents and concerned residents are encouraged to sign and mail the pre-addressed cards to the governor.