LWV Questionnaire Responses
Qualifications. Please state your name and district. How would you best describe the current state of your district and why should voters elect you to lead its future?
Vivek Kamath, Rye, NY.
I am a strong proponent of the public education system and I want to build upon the success of Rye schools. I believe my expertise in finance and the education technology sector can be beneficial to the board as we navigate a new landscape post Covid-19. Over the next several years there will likely be many difficult decisions to be made regarding the budget and the prioritization of resources, and I believe my background will help solve these challenges and help create opportunities that everyone in the district will benefit from. This includes a commitment to providing effective professional development for our teachers, leveraging data and analytics to improve student achievement and increasing productivity within the schools through a deeper use of technology. I believe the best education system will benefit not only our children but everyone in Rye.
2. Student Issues: How have and/or would you improve the quality of teachers, the curriculum, and school facilities in your district?
I believe providing access and funding to strong professional development resources for teachers should be a priority for the district. It’s an investment that will pay long term dividends for the teachers, students and the district. In addition, we should supplement our core basal programs by considering lower cost, high quality curriculum resources which have proven efficacy. There are many non-profits and alternative vendors that provide strong open educational resources that the district should evaluate.
3. Financial Issues: Property taxes remain the most important issue to voters. How can you provide relief to the taxpayers and ensure a balance between property values and the quality of education?
I believe we can find savings within our budget without sacrificing the quality of education while maintaining the investment required in our infrastructure, teachers, curriculum and educational resources. The district should evaluate working with other districts in the state to create co-op purchasing opportunities to drive down costs in areas such as insurance, benefits and transportation costs. The district should also consider administrative back office technology solutions to help manage costs and improve efficiencies around areas such as physical plant, energy and maintenance.
4. Challenges: What do you feel are the major decisions the Board has made in the last year and will make in the coming year, and what is your position on those decisions?
Last year, the board had a major bond initiative which called for critical infrastructure repairs, educational improvements and the establishment of a capital reserve fund. I agreed with the proposal and voted for it.
This past week, the Board of Education approved a revised budget to take into account potential cuts in state aid due to the effects of Covid 19. I agreed with the revised proposal and will vote for it on June 9.
5. What do you propose the District should do to address the new normal in delivering quality education post the COVID-19 crisis? This includes, lost schooling, new learning alternatives, and a healthy and safe environment.
First and foremost, we will need to make students, teachers and parents feel comfortable that the school will be safe and conducive for a positive learning environment. We will need to have a flexible just in time plan that will account for the various scenarios that we will inevitably face. (e.g. temperature checks, reconfigure classrooms, alternative drop off schedules for pick up and drop off.)
We will need to implement a hybrid learning environment that includes distance learning that is effective, a modified blueprint for in classroom instruction, and a strong supplemental set of resources for students that require additional remediation or assistance.
We should provide parents with additional resources and assistance in the event children need to stay at home (access to library resources, project based learning activities, streamlined access to teacher created materials)