Candidate for School Committee, Ward 1
Campaign Website: https://rajeevparlikar.com/Biographical statement
I am currently the incumbent School Committee member from Ward 1. I was previously on the Newton SEPAC board for six years, including five as co-chair. I was born in India, grew up in Kenya, and first came to the US as a college freshman. I moved to Newton in 1994 and my son is an NPS student.
Questions and Answers
Question 1: What policies would you like to see put in place to improve the mental health of our students?
I would like to see us hire more adjustment and guidance counselors for NPS. We should have counselors assigned to each school. We urgently need to ease the significant and unsustainable caseloads of our counselors across all levels of our schools, but due to budget constraints over the past two years this has not been possible. I will continue to advocate for it.
Question 2: How do you feel about the importance of DEI (Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion) in our schools and how should DEI concerns determine the way in which we teach our students?
I am committed to DEI and I see it as an ongoing journey. I would like us to take a broad definition of Diversity to make sure we make NPS a safe and welcoming home for all our students. In terms of teaching, I see DEI and academic excellence as two core values of NPS that can and must coexist and strengthen each other.
Question 3: There is evidence that students are still struggling to return to their pre-pandemic levels of learning. MCAS scores are still much lower than before 2019. How do you think Newton Public Schools should address this loss of learning?
I think we've made some progress in addressing the learning deficits from the pandemic but there is more to be done. Summer programs and some additional academic support over the past two years have helped many students. However, we have lost academic supports in some areas due to budget issues that I hope we will be able to restore.
Question 4: About half of our schools have been or will be renovated in the last ten years. What do you think should be the plan for bringing the remaining schools up to par?
There is a comprehensive Capital Improvement Plan for NPS buildings that includes both rebuilding and renovations for our schools. We already have significant work under way on four schools that are most in need of it. The next stage of school construction / renovation will focus on the schools that have not recently been updated as well as on replacing outdated systems as needed.