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Get More Art Into Barrington Schools

Barrington School Committee candidate Paula Dominguez says the arts can bolster math and science scores while boosting all-around academic achievement.

School Committee candidate Paula Dominguez believes the arts must play a much stronger and more prominent role in Barrington’s schools.

“The arts support the core content,” said Dominguez, who holds a Ph.D. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and has studied high performing school systems. “And the good news is the future Common Core (curriculum) is a great opportunity to emphasize the arts.”

Barrington students' success in standardized science and math assessment tests is well-known in Rhode Island, she said. Greater success in those disciplines can come from introducing more art into their lives.

“The arts should not be a second conversation,” Dominguez said. “They can add to the entire community. They can add to the quality of life, and have an economic impact.”

A well-rounded education broadens a student’s capacity to understand all subject matter, she said.

“We have to recognize that 21st century skills emphasize creativity, innovation, leadership, generating ideas, and synthesizing information from different sources,” she said. “This is what the artistic process is all about.”

Dominguez, who serves on the board of Arts Alive!, which has brought performing arts to the elementary schools and, this year, to the middle school, sees “a robust community of parents who have embraced the arts.” Many of those parents and others have been enrolling their children in the Community Theater program for years.

And for good reason, she said.

“The performing arts allow children to unleash their creativity, their problem- solving skills, and their ability to draw inferences,” she said. “All of these capacities support children’s learning in core academic disciplines.”

“I am not surprised that Barrington’s progress in science and math has occurred alongside the recent development of a stronger performing arts culture,” she said. “There is now a pipeline of students in town who have grown up with the performing arts through a rich array of in-school and after-school activities.”

The fact that much of the arts in Barrington occur outside of schools, however, is not lost on Dominguez.

“I think there is a need and a thirst in our schools that sends a message that there is a gap,” she said. “I am all for a complete and well-rounded education that makes full use of the arts.”

Dominguez would devote professional development time for teachers to the arts so they can incorporate the concepts into classroom instruction.

“There is a crying need to bolster professional development of teachers in the arts,” she said.

Dominguez sees the creation of partnerships with existing arts programs, such as Arts Alive! and the Rhode Island School of Design, which operates a campus in Barrington, are a way to go, she said. She does not envision adding substantial sums of money to the budget to add more in-school arts programs.

“I will be honor-bound to pursue these partnerships if I am elected to the school committee,” Dominguez said.

Any discussion of improving Barrington’s schools must include the arts, she said. The arts must play a more prominent role in the schools.

DanComment September 27, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Isn't she the one who's been vandalizing our houses with the junk mail flyers she's hung on our doors illegally?
William Rupp (Editor) September 27, 2012 at 01:00 PM
Always appreciate comments from Patch readers, but this one is a bit harsh. Vandalism? Illegal communication? All candidates have the right to distribute information. It is election season.
Joel Hellmann September 27, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Arts Alive is a FOR PAY Arts program in the schools. In the past people tried to get better sports and music programs for pay in the schools and were rebuffed by the department of Ed. It creates an uneven field for students who may not have the money and parents ashamed to ask for scholarships. Schools are supposed to be the equalizer. Students don't pay for sports in the schools. We don't pay for students to do music in the schools. Does the candidate suggest that students pay extra to get the arts in the schools? Or is she suggesting that the tax payer pay the huge sums they are collecting for the organization that she sits on the board of?. IS that a conflict of interest with the office she is seeking? And will the arts, especially theatre arts, be put out for bid to the many qualified organizaions or, as has not happened in the elementary schools, will it be a back door deal with the PTO's to give the arts to favored people which has resulted in great revenue for the people at Arts Alive?
RI GF Mom September 27, 2012 at 01:30 PM
So refreshing to hear someone even mention arts with out the word cuts in tow. Yes, creativity, movement, outside of the box larger projects and real life application all add so much to education, and get kids to buy in by making it more real. Yay, Paula, keep supporting the arts in schools and you will have my vote.
RI GF Mom September 27, 2012 at 01:33 PM
Oh BTW, Joel, kids do pay for sports and after school enrichment programs on every level except high school. And if they haven't been paying for sports before high school, they will never qualify for Barrington sports in high school. Also, arts alive has a very generous scholarship program for kids to participate in their programs. I think that's exactly Paula's point too, if we had more arts in schools, included in the school day, we would have better rounded kids.
DanComment September 27, 2012 at 01:33 PM
William Rupp: per town hall: it is illegal to distribute flyers and illegal to trespass.
DanComment September 27, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Thank you Joel. It's a sad thing with Arts Alive/PTO. Many of us have tried to bring it up but were rebuffed in the most rude way by the then PTO leaders.
Joel Hellmann September 27, 2012 at 01:59 PM
My son is a on a FREE Middle school track team including free transportation. He plans o being on a free wrestling team next season, I had another boy who played on the free Middle school Basket ball team and girls on the free field hockey team. There is no requirement except in the minds of over achieving parents who believe that you must start playing at age 4 to qualify. the ones who start building thier Ivy league reseumes in elementary school. My foster son played trombone ( did very well not having played before) at Hampton Meadows and was given a trombone to use FREE. Taught by the schools FREE. He will be playing at the middle School FREE. There is a line item in the middle school budget to pay for a theatre coach so kids can do theatre FREE. Would Arts alive like to do their program for the $1400 pay the school offers, so that kids can do the program FREE? or do they want the $30,000 or so they took in last year at Hampton Meadows? No GF Mom, Arts Alive gave less in scholarships to the 300 + kids they serve than the community theatre program dis with the 100 they serve.I have worked these numbers from both sides for years and Arts Alive is in it for the money. If not then their staff would be paid less and it would be free for the kids.
Joel Hellmann September 27, 2012 at 02:00 PM
This is very true. it is illegal, just nat vandalism
DanComment September 27, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Joel - you tell that to my flowers they trampled....
Joel Hellmann September 27, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Dan The PTO's run the schools, to the point of benifiting themselves to harm children. The administration walks on egg shells around them. I am working on a couple of pieces on the business model.
DanComment September 27, 2012 at 02:10 PM
And it seems they have now moved from Nayatt to HMS - poor administration.
Joel Hellmann September 27, 2012 at 02:46 PM
fair point.
RIMomof2 September 27, 2012 at 05:37 PM
When it's cookie time, girl scouts BEWARE!!!
Laura Ramsden September 27, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Arts Alive is a NON profit organization that must publish its financial records for the public to evaluate. Arts Alive allows students the opportunity to experience theater from a young age. Children performing in Arts Alive events derive multiple benefits from their experience including public speaking skills, confidence, teamwork not to mention pride in their hard work - all important life skills. Anyone who has attended one of their performances can attest to the quality of the performances, the amazing efforts of the coordinators and the sheer happiness of the performers, the children. We are so lucky to have Arts Alive in our schools. I"m puzzled by the attacks on Arts Alive as the leaders give of their time far beyond what any payment could cover to the benefit of our children. In addition, scholarships are provided for students in need to allow access to all children. Thank you to Arts Alive for adding a dimension to our childrens' lives beyond academics and athletics.
Joel Hellmann September 27, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Laura, Arts alive numbers will be at least a year behind. I know, better than anyone in town how much money they are raising and How much It costs to mount shows. My contracts with the town have a clause that if the program is short, it comes out of my pay. i watch all expences and revenues very closely. It is not whether they put on good shows Lots of organizations do great work. It is wheter the PTO's yourself included have given an inside track to one group. Picking winners and losers if you will. Trinity, All children's theatre plus other groups all do good work also, and would cost our children less. This is going to be a campaign issue. Arts are important-No one feels that more than I- but this is an inside deal for friends. Let there be an open bidding process or let the schools run their own program!!
Carolyn Greeley September 27, 2012 at 07:03 PM
I am also baffled by this attack on Arts Alive. We are lucky as a community to have several great options for our children to choose from to explore performing arts, and Arts Alive is one of those great options. Although there certainly is some fantastic arts education already occurring in our schools, many people would love to see even more offered. With constraints on the school budget, we are fortunate that other organizations step in to offer some amazing extracurricular opportunities (particularly when they are generous with scholarship aid, as in the case of Arts Alive). To say that, "Arts Alive is in it for the money" is patently false and offensive. It is crystal clear to participants that the leaders are in it for the joy of sharing their passion for theater arts with our children. Clearly, there are many extremely pleased participants, accounting for the growth of Arts Alive. Your comment that "PTOs benefit themselves to harm children" is bizarre and absurd. I have yet to come across anyone who is volunteering their scarce time for their own benefit with the goal of harming children. Over the years, I have seen many wonderful organizations welcomed to offer enriching experiences to students after school. I can only hope, for the sake of the children in our town, that Arts Alive's leaders continue to offer their talents to our students in this way.
Joel Hellmann September 27, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Just open it all up for bids for an honest RFP and see how it plays. Arts alive is making a lot of money on kids who get one or 2 lines. No bid contracts are just cronyism. they are in town hall, in School administration and they are at the PTOS. Open it up for bids or let the schools run it.
Arts Supporter September 27, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Laura, I so agree with everything you have said, however, I think it has fallen on deaf ears. This man seems focused on bashing Arts Alive! and the PTOs. Not sure why and it is very disappointing. The community should be supporting each other and not trying to trash one another. I am happy this man can get everything for his children for FREE and never has had to endure paying for any activities his kids have chosen to do. I wish I was so fortunate. The activities my children enjoy are not offered in their schools . My children enjoy soccer, therefore I pay BYSA. My children play basketball so I shell out $$ to YBL and CYO. Will there be an attack on these groups next?? Sure, let there be an open bidding process for any programs offered in our schools. I am all for it. Having seen many plays directed thru Atrs Alive!, I am pretty sure they would win EVERY bid at EVERY school EVERY time! They go above any expectation placed on themselves and their actors/children in their plays. Their numbers have soared EVERY year for children who would like to participate in their plays. Why? Because the plays and the people involved are amazing!! Not everything is an "inside deal"; sometimes Non-Profit groups such as Atrs Alive! get the deal because they are wonderfully talented!!!!
DanComment September 27, 2012 at 08:25 PM
I don't know re. Joel but I do that a lot of people felt that PTO people and the parents involved were given preferential treatment - but that felt on deaf ears when brought to school. The point maybe is that if we had an impartial Arts group this would not happen.
Joel Hellmann September 27, 2012 at 11:03 PM
I will make my case in tomorrow's blog
Local Mom September 28, 2012 at 06:00 AM
Re article above on getting more art into schools. Great concept, but every kid I know has no time to do anything more during school day - how the #&^@ are they going to squeeze any more in? Kids get 20 min lunch. Tap dance on their way to other required classes? Lots of after school options for arts programs, just as kids devote that time to sports/other. Girls HS hockey had no team until kids/parents made it happen without school budget $. Local theater groups inconsistent - in flux, or at each others throats - town funds not going to help that. Bring back Barrington Players/Community Theater. Re programs vs. PTO's: need moms, dads, guardians attending PTO meetings - back and forth about whose interests are being served would be reduced. PTO's = not for profit groups, primary task is to supplement school needs. PTO meeting attendance predictable: big push Sept/Oct, dwindles to core group by Nov/Dec. Same people over and over again who show up, organize, plan, present, vote, execute. PTO officers + attendees make their cases about how money to be spent, how to find right resource to fulfill a particular need, and how to build some sustainability. More Decisions made at meetings with no rebuttal. One year, one of the elem schools ran PTO meetings during the day on alternate months, to help attendance. Worked well - suggest refreshed model for PTOs to reduce this rancor about how resources are being parceled out.
Artsy Mom October 01, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Dear readers, I would address this directly to Mr. Hellmann, but I not willing to be personally attacked the way I have watched him attack the staff Arts Alive!. My children have had the wonderful opportunity to participate in both programs (Mr. Hellmanns' and Arts Alive!. I give enormous credit to the parents who give their time to serve on the PTO, and those I know personally are neither conspirators or fools. I wish all arts providers could be supported more, financially and otherwise. The type of on going mudslinging from Mr. Hellman is worse than tiring. It is mean spirited, completely baseless and incredibly unbecoming to anyone who would like the honor to work with our children. Artsy Mom
Joel Hellmann October 01, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Artsy mom, I am working on my blog piece. It is not mudslinging. The program is good, the people mean well, but the money is the question. The town needs to follow the law. The schools need to follow the law. They both have obligations to have the best programs, that cost the town the least money and create the most revenue for the town. not to use the PTO's to get around the rules. Arts Alive Is not paying enough money to the town or schools for the exclusive right they have been granted. Arts Alive wants to take over all theatre in town. Several board members went into the town managers office last year and insisted to take over Community Theatre because they were more popular and wanted the space we used. our existance conflicted with them. When that failed,They offered all of our staff jobs if they would leave us and go to arts alive. they have been pressuring the middle school to take them in so they will have 5 schools. I will prove, that beyond any doubt, the schools could have a fine program. like arts alive or better, from many different sources and also have more money. Much more money. And that the PTO's and Arts Alive are a conflict of interest which if it were not the PTo could be criminal.
Manifold Witness October 01, 2012 at 05:20 PM
There he goes again – this public tax official who spends so much time at writing & throwing around bogus legal theories at innocent bystanders & threatening lawsuits & yakety-yaking about alleged criminal activity & alleged conflicts of interest & anything & everything ... except that he ignores his own important duties as a member of the Barrington Ad Hoc Tax Committee– including, to ensure that the town complies with the BET Settlement Order (which ironically enough, actually involves real law & the real court & a real case & real need for real tax standards & a real judge & real implications & real appeals, & real duties, etc.). But he doesn't seem to comprehend these real legal issues. And to top it off, he lied and first said his Tax Committee had implemented the standards, but when asked to produce them, he had to admit they were not implemented.
Manifold Witness October 01, 2012 at 05:33 PM
And Joel, thanks for the fair warning about your many and varied upcoming alleged exposes. Here’s our response in advance: Jealous much?
susan amendolara October 02, 2012 at 01:14 AM
Wow! I can not believe Mr. Hellmann's negative attack on Arts Alive! There are so many children and adults that think the program is wonderful. I have volunteered on many of the Arts Alive productions and can honestly say that they are NOT in it for the money! They are so talented and generous with their time. Mr. Hellmann claims to "know more than anyone else in town how much money they are raising and how much it costs to mount shows" He has no idea what goes into one of their shows! I was almost speechless when I read his absurd accusations toward the PTO's in town " benefitting themselves to harm children". WHAT? I have also been a volunteer on the PTO for many years. I sacrificed many, many hours with absolutely no personal gain! Once again, Mr. Hellman's comments are excessive and unjustified. They are not even worth a response but I was compelled to speek up.
B/STOCK October 02, 2012 at 04:44 AM
Could this law put an end to the fluorescent colored 12X14 yard sales signs that visually pollute the town. Should be very easy to catch the culprits as their addresses are written on the flyers. How I loathe those signs especially when the posters don't take them down after the sale has ended.

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