Community Impact Newspaper sent Janagarajan a list of questions about his candidacy. His responses below have been edited for publication style.
This article is part of ongoing May 4 election coverage and does not constitute an endorsement of the candidate.
Why did you decide to run for the Frisco ISD board of trustees?
I firmly believe in fiscal discipline, transparency and accountability, observance of the safety measures and representing myself to espouse the cause for teachers. My personal philosophy and deep passion to serve imbibe me with the confidence to bring a fresh voice to our board and work in the best interest of the taxpayers, teachers, parents and students.
What experience do you think prepares you for serving on the board?
This answer would go in different directions as I have varied experiences in largely all areas that would help me perform as an able member of the board.
First and foremost, I have a long, enduring relationship with the city of Frisco that started in the January of 2013 when I first moved here from Plano. I have seen it grow leaps and bounds and now have dreams and tangible plans to make it flourish even more. What further strengthens the bond is my daughter going to the FISD school, which fills me with even more desire to give back to the district that is working with and for my child.
Yet another dimension to my past experience that would enable me to be a befitting member of the board is my active participation as a volunteer and a community leader. Of all the responsibilities handled so far, I take utmost pride in serving as a board of director of the illustrious Richwoods homeowners association since 2017. Richwoods is one of the largest gated communities with over 1,600 homes and a budget of a whopping $2 million to manage in billion-dollar assets.
Of everything concerning children, their safety and well-being is particularly vital to me. To that end, I volunteered as a crossing guard at Vandeventer Middle School for 3 1/2 years to provide assistance at a particularly chaotic time of the dismissal and help the parents in ensuring that each child reaches home as safe and fresh as he came in the morning. This was solely out of my selfless love and compassion for the children, which I want to take it to the next level by serving on the board.
In addition to these, I regularly volunteer in various nonprofit organizations in whichever capacity I am needed. I organized and volunteered a fundraising event for the special-needs children and have successfully raised over $61,000 to support their cause.
I also have a master’s in computer science and an experience of over 20 years as an information technology professional. I bring a passionate heart and a logical mind to the table and assure the decision makers that they will not regret their decision in appointing me to serve on the board.
What would you support out of the state Legislature this session in regards to school finance reform?
Yes, I do support state Legislature House Bill 3 on school finance reform. Once this bill is passed, FISD’s rate would be compressed to $1.09, recapture would go from $42 million down to $3.8 million, and it would provide FISD with $21 million in additional funding. It would help increase teachers’ wages, cut down property taxes, fund full-day prekindergarten for some of our needy students and raise the basic allotment to $6,030 from $5,140, an increase of total $890 per student.
How do you think FISD should retain and attract quality teachers?
The current scenario paints a rather dismal picture as the teachers are sadly paid much less compared to their counterparts in other professions with the same, and in some cases, lesser educational credentials. The retirement planning is no less bleak compared to other professions as well. As a board member, I will assertively advocate higher pay and better benefits for our most valuable resource, i.e. teachers. I will present and push the following points in the agenda:
- Institutionalize pay increase, enhance incentives, protect pension plans, increase employer contribution for the pension, and also enhance maternity benefits.
- Hike the teachers’ pay every alternate year commensurate with their growing experience within the district.
- Support a pro-teacher agenda.
- Expand professional education opportunities for teachers.
- Tenure bonuses to keep our great teachers and to show our appreciation for staying with FISD.
- Cost of living allowances to be given to compensate housing and classroom stipend to cover classroom expenses.
- Decent pay hike for the substitute teachers.
- Good cost-effective health care plan.
- Support the Social Security benefits for the teachers.
In a nutshell, I would work relentlessly in the best interest of our teaching community with an endeavor to retain them by offering competitive pay and attractive benefits.
What else do you want voters to know about you?
While I am equally proud of my soft skills and personal attributes that would help enable me to deliver at my maximum potential, but they would largely be irrelevant and pompous here. Hence, I would cut straight to the point and apprise the voters of the following points of my mission, which would help them in shaping their decision:
- To represent every resident, taxpayer, student, parent and teacher of Frisco ISD fairly and unequivocally.
- To provide ample opportunities to the teachers and students to bring excellence in sports and academics alike.
- To rise above the status quo and dynamically voice my frank opinion in front of the policymakers.
- To bring public trust and transparency in all levels of the decision-making process.
- To schedule regular town hall meetings in order to discuss issues, such as budget, district initiatives and concerns of the FISD community.
- To make sure all the committee members are selected by the lottery system rather than picking yes-men or -women by trustees and school administration. This will give fair chances to residents who want to serve on the committee.
- To speak up decisively and, if necessary, stand alone on the board to represent you. I will openly voice my concerns in public and question my fellow board members and FISD administration for any issue or the cause of concern.
- To not shy away from doing what is right instead of doing what the majority wants me to do.
- To make myself easily approachable and available to the public, with the sole end to keep my promises and honor my contract with FISD community.
I’m honored and humbled to have your support and vote to serve on FISD board of trustees, Place 3.
Let’s bring the fresh voice to the board.