My mission statement in 2 words: “Family first”. That has been my guiding philosophy in my own family. We raised two boys, both having graduated from our school district, thriving in this multi-generational environment. It does indeed take a village to raise a child, but the family comes first.
What do you think are the top three issues affecting our children and families and how do you propose to address them?
1. Core competency in STEAM skills to enable our students success in college and career ESD has built (or in the process of building) STEM classrooms in each elementary and middle school. We also have Project Based Learning schools in two (of 3) our middle schools 2. Mental health and anti-bullying Our approved budget has additional funding for counsellors to help students with emotional and mental health issues; education on anti-bullying 3. Expulsion and truancy in students from foster homes Our approved budget calls for additional help for students in foster homes to help with truancy and expulsions.
How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?
For each of the above stated priorities, we have developed a proposal, with parent, staff and community input as part of the LCAAP process. Furthermore, funds were allocated from the Bond measure to build STEAM class rooms; additional funding allocated to hire and train counsellors; funding allocated for on-going education of students, parents and community via Parent University. For each of these, we have also specified specific and measurable goals in the superintendent’s annual performance evaluation.
What steps will you take to address the high cost and lack of availability of quality child care and preschool programs in our communities, especially for low-income children and English language learners?
Evergreen school district was recognized by Santa Clara as having an excellent ELL program; on an annual basis, we graduate approx. 500 EEL students to the “Proficient” level. The board and administration, working with the Facilities Advisory committee, are looking at dual-use of school sites to offer pre- and after-school programs for all students. Low income student will be offered free or subsidized services.
What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?
Evergreen school district has a distinguished record of providing services to all types of special needs students. We main stream a sizable portion of the kids suitable for such programs and the teachers are compensated with stipend for adding/supporting those students in the classrooms .We also have a “diversity” and “equity” goal in the LCAAP and specific and measurable goals for the superintendent. We have allocated additional budget for our Title 1 Schools for procuring and deploying technology (laptop carts, additional AV equipment, etc.)
Much of the student achievement gap has been linked to the "opportunity gap" that low-income children and children of color experience, including lack of access to healthy food, preschool, tutors and enrichment activities. If elected, what steps will you take to address this issue?
Focusing on student achievement and closing the achievement gap is the #1 goal in my platform (See www.balaji4eesd.com). Via the LCAAP process, strategic plan and superintendent goals and investment in Parent University, we are addressing the needs of specific population that need additional help with tutoring, counseling and other special services.