Brambleton resident Ram Venkatachalam has joined Ian Serotkin of Aldie in running for the Blue Ridge District seat on the Loudoun County School Board.
Jill Turgeon, who currently represents the district on the board, will be running for the county chairwoman seat on the Board of Supervisors in 2019.
Venkatachalam said he’s been involved in public service since 2013. He serves the Brambleton HOA as resident elected director, the Blue Ridge representative on the Transit Advisory Board and as an election officer in local elections. He also said he’s completed the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office’s Citizens Police Academy, where he learned of issues facing the county and about community engagement.
Venkatachalam and his family have been in Loudoun for 10 years. He lives with his wife, Seetha, a son and a daughter who is a rising kindergartner. Together, they volunteer at food pantries.
The candidate also helped Loudoun County Public Libraries offer books in languages other than English. Community engagement and communication is important to Venkatachalam, he said. He lists improved communication between the School Board and constituents as a top priority.
He mentioned the change in bus routes last year that placed some stops on unsafe roads and doubled some commutes, the news of a Stone Bridge student who attempted suicide on school property and seclusion practices as situations where there could have been stronger, proactive communication.
“Communication from the actual schools was not great to the parents,” Venkatachalam said. “...So that left parents, primarily families in that community close to the school, more concerned than calm.”
He’d also like to establish more consistent communication with the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors because supervisors allocate money for the LCPS budget and also approve developments that affect school overcrowding and growth.
In planning for growth, Venkatachalam said he’d like to gradually reduce class sizes and continue to manage resources in a fiscally responsible way. He also threw his support behind community schools and maintaining universal full-day kindergarten.
Venkatachalam said he started his educational career in a small, community school before eventually moving to larger public schools, so he understands the need for community and charter schools.
He also helped establish the Brambleton community center as one of the host sites for the Community and Schools Together program to help students with special needs transition out of high school, which has helped fuel his desire to maintain and expand LCPS’ community partnerships.
The program will move to Brambleton Library when it opens in the fall.
Some partnerships he mentioned he’d like to expand include the partnership with the Loudoun Freedom Center to teach African-American history with the Loudoun Freedom Center, the SMART Lab at Liberty Elementary, the Code to the Future schools in the county and with the Loudoun Education Association to help attract and retain the best staff possible.
As an advisory consultant and father of two young children not yet in the school system, Venkatachalam said he feels he brings an outsider’s perspective trained at finding solutions.
“Any problem can be resolved. If there’s a problem, there’s a solution,” Venkatachalam said.
Update: This article has been changed to reflect the candidate has a son and daughter, and to remove a sentence from a quote to more accurately represent the candidate's sentiment.