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News - November 11, 2022

College student winning race for Sequoia high school district board

Sathvik Nori graduated from Menlo-Atherton in 2021

by Michelle Iracheta and Leah Worthingon

Sathvik Nori, a commissioner on the San Mateo County Juvenile Justice Commission, is on track to become the youngest member of the Sequoia Union High School District Board of Trustees. He leads the race to represent the board's Area D with 3,411 votes (55.6%) to competitor Jo-Ann Byrne Sockolov's 2,728 (44.4%) in semi-official results as of Wednesday.

Nori said that as the only candidate who is a product of the district, he has a unique insider perspective of the problems facing teachers, students and their families. He graduated from Menlo-Atherton in 2021.

"The school board, at the end of the day, the buck stops with them," said 19-year-old Nori before the election. "It's really important for the school board to be in touch with what's going at local schools and what's going on with teachers and the community."

Sockolov, who has more than 20 years of experience in public education and served as the Redwood City Education Foundation's first executive director, ran on a platform of fiscal oversight, teacher talent acquisition and retention, finding innovative education and teaching strategies and adding support resources that level the playing field for students facing social and economic challenges.

Nori said the school district, for the most part, does a good job serving its students. Yet during his four years at Menlo-Atherton High School, he saw firsthand how an educational achievement gap plagued the district, where students from disadvantaged backgrounds often fell behind in their academic performance. The gap was exacerbated by the pandemic, he said. It's an issue he wants the board to focus on.

Now a Stanford sophomore studying computer science, Nori said his top priorities include adding an array of diverse academics and increasing community engagement and teacher retention.

"A lot of these classes would be good to help students who maybe don't like traditional subjects like math, English, reading or science," Nori said. "They might find that they really like aerospace engineering, business or sports management."

The COVID-19 pandemic was isolating for many and revealed how the district was not as responsive as it could have been to input from various committee members or parent groups, he said. The district would benefit from a Parent Advisory Committee so that parents feel that their voices are being heard, Nori said.

One of the biggest concerns facing school districts in the Bay Area is that of teacher understaffing.

"The district needs to take a look into more creative compensation tools, such as helping teachers afford to buy homes or have down payment assistance to help them afford to live in the area," Nori said. "Attracting and retaining the best quality educators is really what translates into actual results in the classroom."

Nori racked up a number of endorsements, including from Sen. Josh Becker and county Supervisors Carole Groom and David Canepa.

Email Editor Michelle Iracheta and Staff Writer Leah Worthington at [email protected] and [email protected]

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