On February 8, Balaji Venkatraman joined the Evergreen School District Board of Trustees, the second time he has stepped in to fill a vacancy. The chair became available upon the election of Sylvia Arenas to San Jose City Council. Venkatraman previously filled a Board seat vacated by the late Carolyn Clark.
The selection of a new Board member was a choice from among 20 candidates, with Venkatraman ultimately selected after three rounds of voting by Board members. Venkatraman decided to stand again for a Board seat because he feels he is well positioned to help the District meet the challenges it's facing."With declining enrollment and consequently reduced ADA based revenue, impending contract negotiations with the teachers and classified, I feel that I have the experience to understand the issues, work with the existing trustees to find common ground, build consensus on policy, allocate budget to the priorities and work with the various stakeholders," he says. "Above all, I am committed to our student success and giving our community a voice in the governance of Evergreen School District."
He says his priorities going forward will center on student success. "Our District's mission is to provide an excellent education in a safe and nurturing environment. That is my goal," he notes. "My only addition to this would be to emphasize and focus on providing equitable access to each student attending our schools."
Venkatraman has lived in the Evergreen community for 15 years. His two sons attended Clark Elementary and Quimby Middle where he became involved with various co-curricular and extra-curricular activities like Cornerstone ABC Reading, Arts Attack, Odyssey of the Mind, and Science Olympiad. He has a PhD in Computer Science from University of Florida and a MBA from Santa Clara University. In addition to his new Board duties, he serves as an Adjunct Faculty in the Electrical Engineering department at San Jose State University, teaching graduate courses.
Venkatraman is excited about his new role and has an eye squarely on the future of the District. "ESD is one of the top school districts in Santa Clara County," he points out. "We provide an excellent education, we have great teachers, classified and administrators, we offer innovative learning programs like PBL, we manage our budgets in a fiscally prudent manner and we provide a clean and safe environment for our students. That said, we can do better in delivering our services and to bridge the obvious achievement gaps; to provide equitable access in all 20 school sites, to continue to innovate, to invest in technology in the classroom to augment the teachers, to continue to engage our community as a partner in our mission to educate our students." Venkatraman knows the challenges we face but feels strongly we're prepared to do so with creative thinking and a commitment to our families. It's with that commitment in hand that he gears up to take on another term on the Board.