Westport Board of Education candidate: Vik Muktavaram
WESTPORT — Vik Muktavaram refers to Westport as the first town his family has been able to call home.
“My family has lived in Westport since 2009,” he said. “Before that since we moved around quite a bit, we were always transient. Finally when we moved to Westport it felt like home.”
And since establishing his roots, he became actively involved in the community. Muktavaram has served as a Board of Education member since 2016 after being unanimously appointed to fill a vacancy. In July, the Republican Town Committee endorsed him as one of its BOE candidates for November’s election.
“I felt humbled that they would consider nominating me again,” Muktavaram said. “Being on the board is an honor. Personally speaking I find the work challenging and interesting.”
Some of his goals include ensuring Coleytown Middle School reopens in August 2020, and he also plans to refocus on caring for the buildings in the district.
“All of our buildings, all of our facilities may need some level of investment,” he said. “I think that’s going to be an area that we want to bring some more attention too.”
If re-elected, Muktavaram hopes to continue focusing on social and emotional aspect learning for students. Additionally, he looks to be an integral part of finding a superintendent that is not only the most qualified, but the right fit for the town.
“I think we have a great superintendent, but it’s equally important to find the right candidate for the long term,” he said, adding the budget is another concern of his.
“We need to look at the budget as an investment into the future of the town, schools and students,” Muktavaram said. “At the same time we need to make sure the budget is sustainable.”
Board of Education candidate
Current job: Management consultant
Education: Attained an MBA
The most important issue in this election: Collaborate with Town Administration officials to ensure the Coleytown Middle School building is renovated on time, within budget and ready by August 2020.
Other issues: I will strive to sustain an ongoing focus on building maintenance and ensure appropriate investment in our schools’ infrastructure, hire the best, most qualified Superintendent for the School District who understands the needs of our families, faculty and Town. I will ensure every Westport middle school student has the best possible experience at the combined Bedford Middle School, renew our focus on social and emotional well-being of all students; and coordinate closely with the Board of Finance and other Town bodies to look for responsible, innovative solutions to funding our schools and position our District for long-term success.
Family: Married; 2 girls attending Westport Public Schools
Previous elected offices: Member, Westport Sunrise Rotary
Campaign website: https://www.facebook.com/lizandvikforboe/
With talks of redistricting, Muktavaram said a fair process is needed to unify the town behind any decision made by the BOE.
“We have to hear all of the voices and ensure it’s a transparent process,” he said. “We have to do what’s right in the long term.”
For Muktavara, that means in the short term, the BOE must listen to the community and provide clear rationale behind any decision made.
“Getting the buy-in of all the stakeholders will be critical to the success of any plan,” he said, noting this could include forums to keep stakeholders and the community abreast of the latest information.
As a BOE member, it’s important to represent all voices, “not just the majority voice, but also the voices that are not necessarily the majority voice,” Muktavaram said. “That’s been my perspective since being on the board.”
Muktavaram noted this has led his voice to be the dissenting voice on a range of topics. Sometimes he was able to change minds and sometimes not.
“My belief is having the dissenting voice even when it’s not the majority is important because it ultimately improves the decision making process,” he said.
With the challenges faced by the district in the past year, Muktavaram said it’s important the community begins to look toward the future.
“To me, it’s extremely important that we move beyond and move forward,” he said. “We have made some important decisions, but it’s important to me that we move forward as one town and one school district.”