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SOAP wants to 'Save Our Art Program'

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By Kellie Parkin

 

The Community Redevelopment Agency Board agreed Tuesday that it will fund up to $40,000 to keep the Cedar Key School Art Program in place next academic year. “It’s been incredible to see how much the teacher has tied the community and the school together,” said Commissioner Heath Davis, who is working with a group of residents to identify other funding sources for the program.  Lead coordinator Joan Horn is heading up the group of volunteers who are determined to find the funding necessary to keep the CKS program. Save Our Art Program, or SOAP, has already received pledges from members of the community for $10,000.  And they are just getting started.  “We have pages of ideas,” said Horn. “We recently raised $40,000 for the school playground equipment. We can do this.” She added that she hopes to find all of the $61,388 needed, but isn’t sure that is possible.  Horn encourages people to reach out to everyone they know, especially those with deep pockets. “We need to be creative, and approach people who want this program,” she said. “Talk to your friends, your family – We need to network to find benefactors.”   “Don’t be afraid to step up and ask,” she added. “They can only say no, but maybe they’ll say yes.” Commissioners Gene Hodges and Scott Dennison each pledged a donation during Tuesday’s meeting. Of the total $61,388, approximately $47,000 of that is salary, and the rest is for benefits.  Veteran art teacher Debby Manansala said earlier that she’d be willing to go with out the school system’s benefit package, but state regulations prohibit that.  The Levy County School Board has said that there are not enough students at CKS to justify art funding. The CRA stepped in three years ago, supplying a grant to the school allowing for the position to be created. The funding will run out at the end of this academic year.  Fundraisers have until April 1 to find the needed money.  “One of the things that we’ve done to alleviate the cost, is worked out with the school that they could absorb the materials costs,” Davis said.  When the program launched three years ago, about $7,000 was spent on supplies. Since then, less has been needed each year.  CKS Principal Sue Ice said there has been another funding source identified as well.  School Board Member Beth Davis has a approximately $2000 of discretionary money that she can use toward CKS specifically, according to Ice. “We have talked about applying that money to this,” she said. “So were at $12,000 now.”  In the coming days, Joan Horn will be scheduling times to be at City Hall so that people can stop by and learn more about the fundraising efforts. She is looking for donations, as well as people who can help organize individual fundraisers. Look on the bulletin board in front of City Hall for specific times.  A savings account in the name of “Cedar Key Art Teacher Fund” has also been set up at Drummond Bank, where people can make donations in their name, as a memorial for a loved one, or anonymously.  Any amount will help, Horn said.  “We so often speak of our heritage… and I hear all the time, ‘Do something for the children.’ I can think of nothing more significant than this program,” Horn said. “These students have developed self confidence and esteem through this program. There exists a wealth of opportunity here to develop their skills.”  For more information, or to offer help, contact Joan Horn at (353) 543-5875.