BY SOPHIA SAGHIR '24
Leela Ramachandran, an elected Acton-Boxborough’s school committee member, visited The Spectrum to discuss how the school committee makes decisions for the town. Additionally, she shared her personal aspirations for what she wishes to accomplish in the near future: diversifying the school board, making the school system more inclusive, and implementing changes to directly help students.
She graduated from Acton-Boxborough before furthering her education at Umass Amherst; now, she works in public health fields: research and evaluation. This means she interacts with community members and identifies areas where minority groups are marginalized and are not receiving the support they need. Leela also spends a her time working on side projects such as sexual violence legislation, racial justice organizing, and supporting immigrant families who are new to the area.
After the Acton Boxborough Regional High School (ABRHS) announced staff cuts and banned a book centered around the LGBTQ community, Leela dedicated more of her time to the school board and discovered her passion for achieving justice and fixing the school system. In high school, she never imagined being a part of the school committee because she didn’t even know that this committee existed and did not understand how her ideas could shape and change the district.
With this new role, Leela has many responsibilities including attending hour-long school committee meetings bi-monthly and subcommittee meetings. Leela explained how joining more subcommittees enables her to have a greater impact and voice in the district. Additionally, she reviews packets and looks at emails; this takes her around two hours per week.
In general, the school committee is responsible for the district budget, school policies, and evaluating the superintendent. Leela adds, “Beyond that, though, I think one of the things that I feel responsible [with] is making sure that more and more people are becoming aware of and [engaging] in the school committee process.” She hopes to include minority groups in conversations that pertain to them by diversifying the school board and allocating more committee positions to people of color, for example. She explains that there are numerous conversations in the school committee about students who speak English as a second language, but these groups cannot participate in discussing these issues due to language barriers; ultimately, she strives to involve people who are not fluent in English to speak at school committee meetings.
Her goal, as well as the school committee's, is to support students and encourage anyone who would like to participate or raise an issue to the school committee to reach out to her. She hopes that by reaching out, students can learn more about the process and get involved. The school committee serves students, and it can improve when students are directly involved.