Studio to School

My First Blog

This link will take you to the Ashland Middle School’s December Newsletter that highlights the work being done in the five arts arenas at the school – band, orchestra, culinary arts, video/film, and visual arts:


We are far into the 1st trimester at Ashland Middle School and starting to see how to get our program running in all five art departments that survived cutbacks over the years.

I am working closely with the instructors for Band, Orchestra, Visual Arts, Video/Film, and the new Culinary Arts.  After doing an assessment for each department we created a budget that would help the department grow and thrive.  So, for the past semester we have been implementing this budget to purchase equipment, supplies, visiting teachers, and whatever we needed to improve the existing programs at AMS.

The first hurdles that we have overcome includes communications and tracking of cash flows.  However, with frequent group meetings (also challenging to schedule for that many individuals), in addition to side meetings with individual instructors and me, we have jumped over most ofthese hurdles now.  An example of a communications/cash flow hurdle is our purchase of 23 computers.  I was required to use the school’s PO and then reimburse the school for that expense.  That meant meetings with individuals at the school that would approve such a large expense that was not in the budget for the district.  But the solution did come forth and we went on to other hurdles.  Such as how do we pay guest artists?  What forms are we required to have in place?  What type of police check out do we need to bring in our guest artists?  Who schedules these artists?  How do we plan for the supplies needed when artists visit?  Etc, etc, etc,…

So we have created some early systems that allow us to communicate effectively while managing cash flow.  I am the key point person for everyone.  I need receipts for every singe purchase made regardless of the amount.  I am the go to for any issues that are not already clearly defined.  Phew.  Got that made very clear 🙂

We have created a few different ways to track spending.  All are brought to my attention at the onset of any purchase.  They include the use of a debit card, the purchase of a prepaid credit card or gift card, and  the use of a check.  And, we have a couple different points of contact for checking expenses, in order to maintain the integrity of all purchases.  I do one reconciliation and the Ashland Art Center bookkeeper does a second reconciliation.

Now that we have gotten much of the supplies, equipment and some visiting teachers into the arts departments and the cash flow is being monitored correctly, we are able to turn our attentions to another aspect of our program: community outreach!

I can only say at this point that we have decided to hold our arts benefit for Ashland Middle School on March 14th, 2015 – off campus.  It will be held at a nearby hotel, where the parents can enjoy a grown up night with other like minded parents who are eager to support the arts.  It will be a beautiful evening to see their children’s artwork from all five departments, while having opportunities to make purchases that will go towards the sustainability of the program long term.

Well, that will have to do for today.  I think I have summed things up for the most part.

More to come….

Denise Baxter

We have hired our Event Planner that is currently creating a template plan for this event that can be carried into years two and three.  We have also hired an arts coordinator that is working with the individual department heads to ensure that they will be adequately prepared when the event comes around.  Their departments will be actively involved in this event’s success.

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