Ramnath Cidambi: Candidate Profile
Palatine District 15 School Board (4-year Terms)
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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.
City: Hoffman Estates
Office sought: Palatine District 15 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Married Two Children - 13 and 9 Years old respectively
Occupation: Managing Director - IT
Education: MBA - DePaul University, Chicago M.Sc(Tech) Engineering Technology - BITS, Pilani, India
Civic involvement: First Lego League (FLL) Marion Jordan Elementary School PTA Volunteer Girl Scouts Volunteer
Elected offices held: NONE
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: NO
Key Issue 1
Safety and Security of Students and Staff - In this age of increased gun violence in public spaces, schools, colleges it is imperative that we value every life and ensure that every person who enters a District 15 facility is provided a safe and secure environment. I will support review and upgrade of safety and security procedures at all District 15 Schools.
Key Issue 2
Provide the Best Education Possible - District 15 is a high performing school district though there are areas of improvement. Some schools lag others in performance and they need to be provided the support to ensure the students in these schools can improve their performance. Class Size is an important factor and needs to be addressed across the district.
Key Issue 3
Fiscal Responsibility - Tax payers entrust their hard earned dollars to the school district. It is very important that tax payers are assured that their hard earned dollars are spent in the most effective manner. I will ensure that I use my management experience to drive the maximum value possible for every dollar spent.
In recent years, Dist. 15 has had contentious relationships between the board and teachers, teachers and the administration, and on the board itself. What is the root cause of this, what problems has it caused, and what must be done to improve it?
The root cause is extreme points of view in different subjects and an inability to move to the center. Stakeholders bring emotion into discussions where facts should drive decision making. The relationship has improved considerably over the last 2 years. It still has room for improvement especially in the area of communication across all stakeholders.
Should District 15 continue to hold onto the 40 acres in Inverness that was originally intended for a new middle school, or look to sell it?
The land in Inverness is a precious commodity and should not be sold. Though a new school is not required now considering enrollment numbers, the land can be used for other purposes - including the proposed Student Farm or a Community Farm. District 15 should take a long term view of this asset and hold it.
How do you think District 15 has handled budgetary pressures in recent years? Amid the uncertainties of outside funding sources, are there ways the district could be more in control of its own destiny?
The biggest uncertainity that could hit the school district is pension reform in Springfield. None of the school districts in Illinois (non-CPS) are prepared for it. Outside of this issue budgetary pressures will continue to increase if teacher pay (biggest component of budget) continues to increase. The community does not have a appetite for a property tax increase. New ideas for funding could include looking for grants from organization such as the Gates Foundation, Dell Foundation; Federal Grants for STEM education; potential increase in fees charged to parents every year etc.
How would you define the ideal working relationship between a school board and its administrators and teachers? To what degree does your school district represent this relationship now?
The ideal relationship should be one of openness, honesty, trust and the ability to "agree to disagree". All stakeholders should look for middle ground in solving contentious issues. The working relationship now can be considered cordial. It has improved considerably over the last 2 years. Much work needs to be done in improving communication between stakeholders - especially community, the Board and administration.
What do you think about the shift to the common core standards? How big a role do you think the board of education should play in setting the curriculum for students and what ideas do you have for changes to the current curriculum?
The Board of Education should not dictate the curriculum. This job should be performed by qualified individuals who have significant experience in K-8 education as teachers/administrators. The board can provide guidance on thresholds/targets to achieve in setting the curriculum. The common core standards provide excellent guidance and a body of work exists in the public domain to emulate.
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