Poinsettia Elementary School parents fight to save art program

Poinsettia Elementary School parents fight to save art program
Poinsettia Elementary parent Laura Bodensteiner sits with her 6-year-old daughter Gretchen in their home in Carlsbad. Bodensteiner set up an online donation website to help keep art classes at her daughter’s school. Photo by Paige Nelson

Laura Bodensteiner decided to take matters into her own hands when she found out her daughter’s school risks losing its art program next year due to lack of funding. 

“I think it’s a really big disservice to the children to take away their art,” Bodensteiner said. “It seems like something we could fix among the school budgetary problems.”

Poinsettia Elementary has been able to keep an art teacher on staff for the past four years thanks to a private parent donation, but the funds ran out with the conclusion of the 2012-13 school year.

“When we have limited funds, other things become more of a priority,” said Marjorie Giordani, Poinsettia Elementary Principal.

The Poinsettia Elementary PTA has supplemented funding for the program for the past several years through fundraisers, but didn’t raise enough money this year to support physical education and art.

The PTA voted at the end of the school year to keep physical education.

Bodensteiner is determined to keep the program alive and set up a donation webpage to raise at least $8,000 to keep art in classes every other week. She said she ultimately hopes to raise $16,000 for art lessons every week.

“That seems like such a small amount,” Bodensteiner said, “and if parents banded together, we can make a difference.”

Nearly $2,000 has already been raised through the Save Art at Poinsettia website. A local art studio, AC Creative Studios, has also volunteered to donate 15 percent of its proceeds to the cause.

Bodensteiner said even if she doesn’t meet her goal, all money raised will go directly to the Poinsettia Elementary PTA.

Poinsettia Elementary Art Teacher Tara Clark said she’s hoping they can get at least 100 donors. Clark will also be applying for Crayola’s Creative Leadership Grant and a smaller art supply grant through ArtSplash.

“I want to continue fostering a culture of creativity at school,” Clark said. “Art is necessary and I want that for my own child who’s a student here.”

Clark said all of her lessons are interdisciplinary. Children can strengthen fine motor skills, learn about light through shading and blending, and have the opportunity to express themselves.

“Kids really get to relax and enjoy the process,” Clark said. “It also helps them take ownership of the school through projects like large-scale murals.”

To meet eligibility requirements for the Crayola grant, Clark is forming a creative instructional team of parents and teachers to integrate more art in the classroom. She said she plans to be on the committee even if she’s not teaching next year.

“It’s been a privilege to have an art teacher at the school,” Giordani said. “Most elementary schools aren’t as lucky.”

Giordani said the school has always had money for art supplies, just not necessarily for an art teacher.

“I think teachers know the importance of art in the classroom,” Giordani said. “There’s quite a bit of art already built into the curriculum.”

But Bodensteiner doesn’t think that’s enough.

“Some teachers are more inclined to teach art than others,” Bodensteiner said. “They’re focusing on the core subjects and it doesn’t really give them time for anything else.”

She said she hopes her efforts will help the school district see the importance of art to parents and find funding for it in the years to come.

“I’ve never done anything like this before,” Bodensteiner said,” but if you keep quiet, you’re not going to get the programs your child needs.”

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  1. Laura says:

    Ms. Giordani has been tremendously supportive of our fundraising efforts. I look forward to enriching our children’s education at Poinsettia with Art. Thank you for reporting on our grass roots effort!

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