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updated: 2/24/2011 12:54 PM

Manjula V. Sriram: Candidate Profile

Palatine Twp. Elementary D15

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  • Manjula V. Sriram, running for Palatine Twp. Elementary D15

    Manjula V. Sriram, running for Palatine Twp. Elementary D15

 

 

 

Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.

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BioKey IssuesQ&A

 

Bio

City: Palatine

Website: http://manjulafordistrict15.org

Office sought: Palatine Twp. Elementary D15

Age: 37

Family: Married, 2 Boys in District 15.

Occupation: Program Director in Information Services. We develop and host customer care, conferencing and communication solutions for service providers and enterprises.

Education: Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering , Computer Science & Business, UW-Milwaukee, 1996

Civic involvement: Candidate did not respond.

Elected offices held: Candidate did not respond.

Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

Restore the voters' trust in the school board.

The recent bond referendum indicates the voters need to re-establish faith in the school board's ability to make decisions in the best interest of the children, families and other residents of the community. My goal is to learn what is best for the students and the voters and find solid ground in the middle. I am sure such policies can be found and implemented. We are a service body. Each of us contributes to our town's well-being, representing a community with a diversity of concerns.

Key Issue 2

We the voters need to see that the Board represents fiscal responsibility and accountability by reviewing how and why they are spending our money. We have had to tighten our belts and prioritize our personal spending; we want to see the District doing that too. That means examining all expenses and contracts; even those of the teachers union. There is a saying, what you have to do tomorrow, do today; what you are to do today, do it now. Now is the time to examine our spending and make sure we are strengthening our schools for tomorrow.

Key Issue 3

The District should be about the CHILDREN. We are laying the foundation for their futures now - We need more focus on continually improving the curriculum, particularly in Science, Writing and Math. The turnaround time for change and implementation is 5 years, this is too long. We need to increase individual development of the leaders of the future, our students.

Questions & Answers

Would you support reductions in staff, specifically classroom teachers, in order to reduce projected deficit spending? If not, what specific budget cuts do you propose?

Staff reductions are not always the solution for deficit reduction. The larger class sizes will only make it a difficult learning environment for the children. Reducing one or two aides or administrators will NOT balance the deficit that exists currently. The changes need to be made by examining the whole; cutting unnecessary expenditures, reviewing contracts for opportunities. We must work as a group to balance this deficit and improve our position for the future.

How would you prioritize capital projects? Is the board's direction to budget $2 million annually on capital projects enough? And would you tap into reserves to fund those projects?

In the past it has seemed as though Capital projects were prioritized based on accomplishing pet projects or quieting the loudest or angriest parties. There should be a formal, impersonal plan for large expenditures. Capital projects can be divided into the Magic Quadrant as described by Stephen Covey (First Things First: 1994).

1. Urgent and Important

2. Not Urgent but Important

3. Urgent but Not Important

4. Not Urgent and Not Important

As we prioritize in this way, categories 3 and 4 may never be worked on. Our focus should be on items that are Not Urgent but Important so we have fewer items that move up to Urgent and Important. If we are always working on priority 2 level issues, there will be few if any items that move up to Priority 1. It is my hope that this approach will make our $2 million annual budget sufficient.

Any of the priority 2 items will be reviewed frequently to identify when they have a potential to become priority 1. If we have this system in place we can better plan all the capital improvements that are needed. Additionally, it will not be necessary to tap into the reserve funds. It should be the board's focus to only use the money coming in and save it for future Priority 1 needs.

How do you attempt to create equity in District 15, a large elementary district with diverse demographics? What further steps can the schools that have struggled with No Child Left Behind standards take?

In my personal opinion ""No Child Left Behind Standard"" is not a very positive standard. One should be looking at the personal development of a child, and a school as a whole. Progress is very individual, for a child who got a 60% in a prior year; the score of 70% is Excellence, while in a child whose growth was from 90 to 92% may not be a significant improvement. In addition, ensuring that all schools have similar tools, out of grade level classes, individual in school tutoring and special attention for kids who need help is important. Schools cannot succeed without good tools. Last, striving to establish strong working relationship with the parents is critical. Parents have the greatest influence on a student's life. Working with them, instead of ignoring the parents, can only make the District's job easier. For those students who might not have parental support, after school programs like those in Rolling Meadows are opportunities for community service, perhaps by older students or seniors. We need to use the resources we have in a more effective way. It is not all about grades or scores, but having and establishing solid fundamentals that will remain with a child for use in later years is more important.

What impact do you think the Navigate15 process will have on Dist. 15, and what can be done to ensure the community is engaged in the process? How should the board incorporate community input into future initiatives?

If implemented properly, Navigate 15 could be a remarkable program with the potential to really continue to improve our educational system to develop the highest caliber of students. Navigate 15 is not yet known by the majority of the community members and the ideas have not been put into action. Navigate 15 needs proper advertising, so it is a known initiative by the community members. The board really needs to understand what is coming out of these meetings, prioritize the input received from the community, and use their ideas as they come in - Don't Wait! As changes are being made, incorporate changes into the entire education system. This should be an ongoing process where community feedback is listened to and incorporated; then shared outside of the district so that the community knows that we are listening and acting.

Would you support another tax increase referendum? Why or why not?

As everything stands today, I would NOT support another tax increase referendum. A large majority of our district expenses are salary/benefit based. When we look at America as a whole, salaries and benefits have been frozen or even reduced in the past several years, while our district has continued to dig deeper into debt, based on old ideas and expectations. When the average family has two working parents, with rising costs and frozen salaries, how can we dare ask for more tax money for expenses that can be controlled? Of course, ultimately I will listen to the voters - and would encourage open town hall type meetings so that their opinions can be heard and acted on.