Dear Editor, I am writing an endorsement for Sai Bhargavi Akiri for BOE.

Our family moved to Berkeley Heights 5 years ago, and currently we have two children in the Berkeley Heights school district. I met Sai about 4 years ago when we were almost settled into our new house and were just starting to hear about the multi-million dollar municipal complex that was coming up. I was impressed by Sai's attention to detail, her ability to research and ask the tough questions that were on our minds as residents. The cost of the municipal building complex is now a runaway train compared to the original budget that was promised to the residents but that is a story for another day.

When I heard that Sai was running for the BOE election this year, I knew she had my vote! As a parent and a voter, what appealed to me was her passion to improve the processes & decisions in the district, be a voice of the parents and bring fresh ideas to the table. The pandemic has brought even more focus on the importance of transparency and communication.

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Sai’s proposal to provide students, parents and teachers with an opportunity to provide feedback on the performance of BOE and Superintendent is a huge step in the right direction. Her open and forthright support for the right to OPRA information without marginalizing residents even when they disagree on issues is a reminder of the importance of having elected officials who value democracy & transparency.

Since launching her campaign, Sai has put forward solid ideas that seem to be resonating with the other candidates running in the election. I grew up in India at a time when reservations and quotas in the education system meant that merit took a back seat, so I know that any kind of quotas are a non-starter. Sai is a non-partisan and independent candidate who supports a merit based system and is firmly against quotas in the schools. She might not flaunt an Ivy league degree but brings relevant real-world experience to the Board of Education and independent thinking.

Her latest idea of a community-based approach for new programming is a perfect example of how parents and residents can be involved and have a say in important decisions made by the school district.

Sai has taken the time to reach out to the town residents and seniors to listen to their concerns about the schools, remote learning and highlighting the issues in BOE meetings. She has been engaged and involved in the BOE meetings well before she planned her run for the BOE, and I am confident will continue, if elected to the BOE.

I am voting for Sai Bhargavi Akiri, column 3 and I hope you will give her a chance to make a difference on the Board of Education this year.

Thank you.

Dipti Khanna