Dear editor,

My name is Ram Lalukota and I am running for a seat on the Shen Board of Education.

As a member of the Town of Clifton Park Planning Board I have gained personal knowledge of the community in which I reside. I have an excellent understanding of the pulse of the community, as to the aspirations of parents, senior citizens, homemakers, professionals, and businesses. Such understanding would be vital in my role as a school board member because of the need to involve all of these segments of our community in how to enhance and maintain an exceptional learning and nurturing environment for our children.

I also have extensive volunteer experience which not only demonstrates my involvement in our community, but it’s where I have learned the skills of leadership, team-building, and reaching out to those in need.

I am an ex-President and current Board Chairman of the Tri-City India Association (TRICIA) and have been involved in Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs (APAPA) Albany Chapter since 2016 representing the local Asian-American community of the capital region.

I am also an IT consultant in our state government where I thrive in a diverse work environment and through professional interactions. This work atmosphere is invaluable in training me to listen, mingle, and warmly engage with other people, a quality vital to be an effective team member. Through these avenues, I have acquired leadership skills that would be extremely suited to my role as a school board member.

As a father of two children I am involved in school programs and have volunteered in classroom and the community. I have been a resident of the Shenendehowa School District since 2005.

My vision for the Shenendehowa School Board is to be a group of parents, professionals, and community supporters who serve to assure exemplary education opportunities for our students of all ages, and who strive to promote cultural diversity and open access to educational resources in today's challenging and competitive world.

To help realize that vision, I will work towards several policies and initiatives, including:

· Forming partnerships and promoting cooperation and interaction among parents and community leaders to overcome COVID-19 effects.

· Providing professional development resources to support staff in meeting students’ diverse needs.

· Supporting a Full Day Kindergarten program.

· Improving school voting access through the addition of multiple polling places in areas such as Chango, Okte and the Town of Halfmoon as well as outreach efforts to enhance community engagement in these voting efforts.

Thanks you,

Ram Lalukota

•      •      •

Dear Editor,

My name is Kara Tubbs and I am running for a seat on the Shenendehowa Central School District Board of Education. I would like to introduce myself, explain why I am qualified for this position, and ask for your vote.

My husband Cory and I have lived in Clifton Park for 15 years. We have two children at Arongen Elementary in 4th and 1st grade. I believe that Shen is the heart of our community, and I feel called to make a difference and ensure the most optimal experience for all students, teachers, and parents.

Education has always been a major value in my life. After receiving my B.A. from SUNY Stony Brook, I started the M.B.A. program at Adelphi University. We moved to Clifton Park in the middle of the program, and I got a job at SUNY Research Foundation as a finance and program administrator for a statewide welfare-to-work program. This position opened my eyes to the need for quality education for all, and I changed my graduate study to education administration. I received my M.S. in Education Administration from U Albany and continued my career at SUNY for eight years before making the decision to stay at home with my two young children.

Stepping back from my career gave me more time to volunteer in the community, and I have been active in organizations such as CAPTAIN Youth and Family Services, Junior League of Albany, Girl Scouts of NENY, Clifton Park Open Spaces, Junior Achievement, and Arongen PTA. In 2017 I took a job teaching at the Shenendehowa United Methodist Church Preschool, where both my children attended.

I believe that the combination of my educational and finance background, experience as a teacher and a parent of young children, and active role in community organizations make me an ideal board member. My passion for education and for the well-being of all children—coupled with my work ethic, determination, and problem-solving skills—would be an asset to the BOE. I have always been able to work successfully with a team while ensuring that the right thing gets done.

Navigating through the pandemic has been challenging, and I have much respect for the Shen BOE and administrators, and for the teachers and staff who have gone above and beyond for their students. As we move toward what I hope to be a more normal school year, I believe Shen has been presented with the opportunity to improve rather than simply returning to the status quo. If elected, I will help shape decisions to drive positive change, addressing overcrowded classrooms and improving our district’s environmental footprint. I have listened to parents and will bring their concerns forward, while also supporting our hardworking teachers and staff and ensuring that all decisions are made in our students’ best interests. As a teacher, parent, and involved community member, I hope to serve as an independent voice that includes all stakeholders in guiding decisions that will strengthen our excellent school system.

I hope that my passion for education and my desire to advocate for every student at Shen is clear. I will bring fresh ideas, a modern outlook, and an independent voice to the BOE. I ask that you vote for me on May 18.

Thank you,

Kara Tubbs

•      •      •

To Shenendehowa community,

On May 18th, you have a choice to advance education for our students while ensuring your tax dollars are well utilized. I request your support for a fourth term on the Shenendehowa School Board.

In the past nine years, we have made important gains to safely increase educational value for all our students, while judiciously managing costs. This year's success to open schools amid the pandemic was and continues to be a collaborative effort by the entire Shen Community.

To ensure Educational Value, we have commenced block schedules, improved course offerings, opened the new STEM center, and enhanced elementary math and language curriculum. We retain and hire an empowered group of teachers and employees confident in our organizational stability. Each year we graduate well-prepared students ready to meet the world’s academic, social and emotional challenges, and we see a large turnout of educators wanting to work here.

To ensure Safe Schools, we continue to upgrade the security of our buildings, improve our communication systems and emergency procedures, and enhance our relationship with local law enforcement via our School Resource Officers (SROs).

To Spend Wisely, we judiciously spend on educational programs, and carefully apply reserve funds to overcome erratic state funding streams. Year over year, we have retained an average cost per student that is nearly $1,500 below average student cost in the Capital Region.

Our approach is to make continuous improvements in order to ensure Educational Value, Safe Schools and judicious use of your tax dollars. Your choice to continue this comes up May 18th. Please vote for this year’s budget (with a very slight reduction in tax rates), vote to maintain a safe bus fleet and improve buildings, and vote for the candidates you believe will best continue this work.

Very Respectfully Submitted,

Robert (Bob) Pressly

•      •      •

Dear editor,

I am writing to express my support for Kara Tubbs as a candidate for the Shenendehowa School District Board of Education. When considering who to vote for, I reflect on the candidate’s demonstrated values, real-life experience, and ability to translate these things into forward-thinking policies that will better our community. I have known Kara for over five years and I believe she is a candidate who will bring these attributes to the BOE.

Kara and I first met with our children during organized hikes at various town parks. I have come to know her as a passionate environmental advocate, a caring and energetic mother, and an effective communicator with clear priorities and values. Kara is an active community member in many aspects, including volunteering for the Town Open Space Committee’s annual Bump in the Night Hike, teaching Junior Achievement at her children’s school, and working with CAPTAIN Youth & Family services. Kara has a background in education administration, budget, and finance and is committed to reviewing Shen’s green initiatives to improve environmental health in a fiscally responsible manner.

I strongly believe Kara Tubbs is an excellent candidate for the Shenendehowa BOE. I encourage you to support her on May 18th.

Kelsi Clark


•      •      •

I am proud to write this letter in support of Kara Tubbs for election to the Shenendehowa School Board on May 18. Kara and her family are long-time residents of Clifton Park and, with two children attending Shen schools, she is invested in the success of the District and its students. In addition to being a parent, Kara holds a Master’s degree in Education, which will enable her to bring an educator’s perspective to the challenging decisions the Board is faced with.

My wife and I had the pleasure of having Kara Tubbs teach our son in preschool and we have no doubt that she will bring the same level of attention to detail and compassion to the School Board that she brought to our son’s pre-school education. Kara also brings a wealth of volunteer experience with her to the position and will be ready to hit the ground running on day one.

I encourage all residents of the Shenendehowa School District to support an independent voice who will actively work with stakeholders to build consensus decisions and ensure that all people are fairly represented. On May 18, please vote for Kara Tubbs.

James Whalen


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