For Immediate Release
November 21, 2010
Burr Ridge School Board President named recipient of the 2010 Thomas Lay Burroughs Award
Illinois State Board of Education honors 7-year district school board member
Burr Ridge – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) presented Paula Dupont, president of the Burr Ridge School Board with the 2010 Burroughs Award Sunday during an annual state education conference in Chicago.
“Paula Dupont’s laser sharp focus on serving all children in her district serves as an example for school board members across the state,” said Jesse H. Ruiz, Chairman of the State Board of Education. “Under Paula’s leadership, this district has passed a successful referendum and improved academic achievement even as the percent of low-income children in the district more than doubled. Changing student demographics and these tough economic times did not stop Dupont from trying to ensure that all children get the best academic services and support available.”
Dupont has stressed educational excellence for all students in Burr Ridge Community Consolidated School District 180’s two schools, one of which sits among million dollar homes and another bordered by a large low-income subsidized apartment complex. Since becoming board president in 2006, Dupont has helped the district pursue and win a tax rate referendum even as the district’s student enrollment demographics dramatically shifted from 35 percent low income to 75 percent.
“Under less courageous leadership, this difference in demographics could lead to an openly divisive community with each segment of the district attempting to put its needs ahead of the other,” said District 180 Superintendent Tom Schneider. “However, Board President Paula Dupont has refused to let that happen. Under her leadership the board has continued to emphasize educational excellence for all students.”
An unsuccessful referendum for a tax rate increase in 2008 resulted in cuts to the district staff and educational programs but the outcome did not deter Dupont from leading the board in asking for a second referendum. A persuasive information campaign led to voters’ approval in 2009 and restored educational services.
“I think everyone is entitled to a good education, whether they can pay for it or not,” Dupont said. “One of my biggest pleasures is when I follow the kids via the local paper to the high school and I see them being successful.”
Under Dupont’s tenure, the district has emphasized providing supplemental assistance to those who need it with the addition of both summer and after school programs, along with opportunities for eighth grade students who excel to attend advanced classes at the high school. During her tenure, the district has enhanced the gifted and talented program, re-instated a full-day kindergarten program, revived the middle school musical and football programs, and pushed for an increase of technology use in the curriculum.
In addition, the district has established a Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program and a Character Counts program that has created positive changes in student attitudes and behavior, including a drop in suspensions. During Dupont’s tenure, both schools have been recognized for their implementation of these programs and have received DuPage County’s Outstanding School Culture Awards for 2009.
Dupont and her husband, Mike, have two daughters, a high school sophomore who attended the district’s schools and an eighth grader who is currently at the Burr Ridge Middle School.
Dupont received the Thomas Lay Burroughs Award Sunday during the joint annual conference of the Illinois Association of School Boards, the Illinois Association of School Administrators and Illinois Association of School Business Officials in Chicago.
ISBE created the award in 1991 to honor Thomas Lay Burroughs who served as chairman of the State Board of Education and the Board of Education for the Collinsville School District. The award recognizes extraordinary educational leadership at the local level, including leadership:
- on behalf of improved student learning and educational excellence;
- in resolving a crisis or major difficulty; and
- On behalf of equal education opportunities.