Places 1, 3 and 6 will also appear on the May 6 ballot.
Before the election, Community Impact Newspaper sent Yedavalli a series of questions on his candidacy. His written responses, edited for publication style, are below.
Sree Yedavalli is running for the Plano ISD board of trustees Place 2 seat.[/caption]
Why are you running for PISD board of trustees?
I believe that our children will be the generation that will lead us into a new world of progress and discovery. It is contingent upon us to forge that future for them by providing the best teachers and resources we can find. I want to be a part of making that happen.
I am a working parent who is heavily invested in the success of my children and their classmates. Additionally, I am tutoring and mentoring a number of students at all levels of education, from elementary school through college, because success outside of school is collaborative. I have seen, first hand, the successes of collaborative learning, in both children and adults.
I, like all Plano parents, want to see our students succeed and grow with an emphasis on using practical problem-solving skills to prepare our children for a bright, productive future. I also want them and their teachers to have access to the best educational resources available to ensure their success in their endeavors once they have left the Plano school system and entered the wider world, whether that is beginning their careers or pursuing further education in Texas or elsewhere.
I am also running for more practical reasons. Migration projections suggest that the city of Plano alone will be reaching 300,000 people by 2030, a mere 13 years from now. The city is diversifying but is rooted in a highly educated, goal-oriented family structure. The district needs to reflect the needs of the changing demographics of Plano, Allen and Richardson and be able to lead the community on what is best for the advancement of our students.
With the anticipated growth in both businesses and population within the district, it is important that the board of trustees has members experienced in infrastructure development and value engineering to maximize the best use of our critical tax dollars.
Generally, our children have been fortunate because they have benefited from having great teachers. Our district is fifth out of 1,247 districts in Texas, [according to Niche]. But we can do better. We lose teachers because they have no room to advance in their careers. Retention and additional opportunities for advancement for our teachers should be a priority. We should also do better to ensure that every possible cent of every tax dollar gets put into the classroom to provide the educational tools and technology to enable those teachers to help our children learn and excel. I want teachers to have every tool they can reach for to enable their students—our children—to enable them to be successful, not only within this district, but when they leave it to enter the greater world or engage in subsequent educational endeavors. I want great, fairly compensated educators in modern classrooms equipped for success.
I want to empower the teacher again. I want to be an advocate for the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) that make our district so successful.
Why are you qualified for this position?
I am a certified professional project manager with 15 years of experience in the construction industry and another seven years in information technology. I literally used to build schools for a living. I have the practical knowledge of analyzing and auditing large budgets for infrastructure and services development, like new schools, public and private housing renovations, roadways and utility infrastructure. I hope to provide my expertise to the board to secure and monitor new capital expenditures to accommodate the necessary development within the region to serve the growing population.
Before that, I was a research scientist, part of the early days of high-throughput molecular biology and cancer research, so I can speak to STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] and Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics initiatives that the district might want to pursue. I am an advocate and proponent of STEAM as a blueprint for the future success of our children.
In the Indian Prairie School District in Illinois, when my sons were in first grade, I found out that there was not a science fair at the elementary school level. So, with the help of the Georgetown School PTA, we started a noncompetitive science fair. Other nearby schools heard about what we were doing and wanted to join in, and [they] consulted me on how to start such programs at their schools. This fostered a healthy respect for the process of scientific discovery for all the children who participated and attended the events. This happened at the elementary level, well before any schools usually engage in science fairs. It also was a chance for the young exhibitors to talk to volunteer judges they did not know about their work, creations and discoveries.
In 2016, when many of these elementary children are now in middle and high school, students from the Indian Prairie School district took top honors in eight out of 18 categories for the Illinois Junior Academy of Sciences State Science Fair. I am proud to have played a small part in that success.
I have developed a successful, ongoing tutorial program in another school district. I think I can work with educators and administrators to help create programs that will move all of our students forward.
If elected, what will you focus on?
The key to success and moving forward involves working with the city councils of Plano, Allen and Richardson as well as community leaders and developers to ensure that the needed housing and commercial development also takes care of the influx of children that need to be educated. Working with the trustees, other regional ISDs and the University of Texas at Dallas community, the district needs to attract the best and brightest teachers and to empower these teachers to do what they do best—create that spark of curiosity, imagination and inspiration in all our children. Plano schools should be incubators of collaboration and discovery so that we can bring the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs and community leaders into the 21st century.
Here are my short-, medium- and long-term goals:
Short-term: Establish an ombudsman so that parents and students have a voice who can speak directly to the school board about issues in regard to district policy and present those issues to the board for consideration, along with discussion with parents and the PTA, to seek positive mutual resolutions.
Medium-term: I want to leverage the excellence of successful programs that already exist. How can we take the programs we have in place and use them to improve the educational experiences of students in other parts of our school district? How can we export successes from one classroom to another? And why can’t we do so more often? These represent opportunities to increase the success of our students throughout the district.
Long-term: With the relationships the region has made with businesses and technology startups, I want to cultivate future opportunities to work with the UTD and with regional technology and innovation-oriented businesses to provide our students access to award-winning scientists, researchers and engineers who can act as mentors and role models for our children. We can learn from the relationships already made by other regional districts and enhance the ones already started by the board to date.
In closing, I hope I can be of service to our children, to our superb educators, to the district and to you.
More information about Yedavalli's campaign can be found on his website.
Place 2 is currently held by Carrolyn Moebius, whose term ends in May. Amanda Jackson, Angela Powell and Jack Liu have also filed for Place 2.
Election day is May 6 from 7 a.m.-7 p.m., and early voting will run April 24-29 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and May 1-2 from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Polling locations have not been announced.