At The Right Brain Initiative, we are still glowing after the success of City of Portland Ballot Measure 26-146, which we can say is the single biggest win for arts education that our city has ever seen. Perhaps most significantly, the voter approval of this measure means that Portland’s six public school districts will have nearly 70 new licensed elementary arts teachers. (Read a fuller breakdown of this new fund from the Regional Arts & Culture Council.) It’s a huge win for our entire community.
In the midst of all our celebration, we’ve had a lot of questions about how this measure impacts the funding and growth our arts integration program, which currently serves 44 schools. Here are the key points to know:
(1) This measure only impacts the City of Portland and is six districts, only one of which we serve (Portland Public Schools). The other districts we serve—Corbett, Gresham-Barlow, Hillsboro, North Clackamas and Oregon Trail—unfortunately will not benefit.
(2) This ballot measure creates a $1.6 million fund that Portland schools can apply for to help pay their share to participate in the Right Brain Initiative ($15 a student), and/or they can apply for other arts education supplies and activities, such as field trips. But it does not cover the majority of Right Brain’s expenses training artists and teachers, evaluating the program, and/or administering it.
That is, because the actual cost of our program far exceeds the school’s fee of $15 per student, once we have a surge of interest from school partners, we will have a greater need than ever to pull on our private funding sources to match the schools’ contributions.
So, will our children benefit from this measure? Yes. And Right Brain’s work will be made richer with the presence of weekly programming from arts teachers in the buildings we serve in Portland. Already, we find that The Right Brain Initiative flourishes most in school buildings that have strong arts specialists. And we can’t wait to work with a chunk of new Portland schools.
But does that mean that we no longer need folks like you to help us move forward? Individuals, foundations, businesses? Not at all. In fact, in anticipation of serving more schools in the City of Portland who now will have arts specialists, and to continue expanding in districts that don’t benefit from Ballot Measure 26-146, we need your support now more than ever.