Sai Bhargavi Akiri for Berkeley Heights Board of Education: Building The Future | #Education

My name is Sai Bhargavi Akiri and I am seeking your vote to serve on the Board of Education. I have a 4th grader at William Woodruff Elementary School. My husband and I moved to Berkeley Heights 8 years ago to raise our child in a vibrant and welcoming community with great schools.

I have lived and worked on three continents, and we have made America our home for the past 15 years. I understand the importance of quality education which enabled me to successfully compete for global jobs early on. I believe that we need to prepare our children to be able to compete globally.

Community Involvement

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With a deep sense of community service, I had volunteered with our Berkeley Heights Volunteer Rescue Squad. It was a great and fulfilling experience serving as an emergency responder. At William Woodruff Elementary school, I volunteer with the “Happy Feet” running program. I believe that teaching should extend beyond the four walls of a classroom. I attend the Town council, Library Board and Board of Education meetings regularly. I am deeply committed to ensuring that all our town’s elected officials are accountable and deliver their best to our residents.

Work Experience

As a Program Manager with 20 years of global project management experience in strategy and planning, my role at Bristol-Myers Squibb is to manage multi-million dollar program budgets and enlist approvals from diverse groups of stakeholders. I will bring that skillset to build consensus amongst parents, teachers and administrators. If I am elected, the skills accumulated in my 20 years as a certified project manager will be of great service to the Board of Education. I will be dedicated to ensuring that our schools run efficiently, effectively and our children get a world-class education that equips them for their futures.

We have a great district but one should always strive to do better. If elected to Board of Education, my priorities will be:

  1. Efficient use of allocated budget for BOE – Are we getting the most bang for our buck, as we spend approximately $21,000 per child in our district? In these unprecedented times, I would like to ensure our tax dollars are being efficiently used to provide the best education possible for our children. I honestly believe in providing a world-class education to our children, so they are successful in the demanding global job market.
  2. Community outreach and engagement – Most parents are busy and unable to attend the BOE meetings to provide their valuable inputs on students’ needs. They also miss out on decisions made at BOE meetings. Therefore, I propose to live-stream all BOE meetings.
  3. Effective communication and transparency – Most parents and residents are unaware of projects approved by BOE. I would work to improve communication on projects, budget spending and status updates on our districts “5-year strategic plan”. As an example, most residents might be surprised to hear that a planned referendum in 2020 for media center updates has now been postponed to next year. Given the current times of financial uncertainty impacting everyone, the proposed multi-million dollar updates to media centers needs to be reevaluated.
  4. Impactful Policies – Our district’s policies should reflect the overall education and development of our children along with special needs, extra-curricular activities and transportation. We need our curricula to engage a child in his/her overall development. I am concerned that all elementary schools are not taught uniformly when it comes to executing the district’s curriculum. The gaps are very evident this year, when the district switched to remote instruction in March. I believe our district needs to devise periodic evaluation to address learning gaps between the schools.
  5. Collaboration with Teachers – We had a great remote learning experience with Mrs. Watkins and Mrs. Finklestien’s 3rd grade classroom in March. I want to work with teachers to replicate the successes at William Woodruff elementary school across the district. We also need to strive to balance screen time at elementary schools with traditional paper and pencil while children are still developing their fine motor skills.

I ask for your support in helping me bring efficiency, transparency, community outreach, collaboration and responsiveness to our school district. Please Vote column 3.

Finally, my commitment will be to children, parents and all residents of Berkeley Heights. I strongly believe a quality education is the foundation for the future.

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