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Burr Ridge President Wins Burroughs Award

Paula Dupont, president of CCSD 180 in Burr Ridge, is the winner of the 2010 Thomas Lay Burroughs Award.

Presented by Jesse Ruiz, chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education, Dupont was one of 10 finalists for the award that has honored the state's top school board president since 1991.

"This is always a tough choice," Ruiz said. "But this district and this school board president displayed laser-sharp focus in passing a referendum in 2009 to equalize opportunities for students, regardless of where they live."

Dupont acknowledged that the experience - successful after an initial ballot rejection - was both a "professional and personal journey for us," referring to the school board and everyone who worked "to embrace change" in the school district.

The grade school district, with an enrollment of 700 students, has an 84 percent minority population, and 73 percent of the students qualify as low-income. But the district located in southeast DuPage County also has a section of million dollar homes.

District voters approved a tax increase in the limiting rate under property tax caps in April 2009. A similar effort failed in 2008.

She was nominated for the award by her superintendent, Thomas Schneider. He noted in his letter to ISBE that "under less courageous leadership, this openly diverse community would have failed. She refused to let that happen."

Dupont, who with her husband Mike has two daughters, said her greatest joy was seeing the success of Burr Ridge students in high school. Last year, Burr Ridge Middle School graduates recorded an average 3.39 GPA as freshmen.

The award was presented Nov. 21, 2010, at the 78th Joint Annual Conference of the Illinois Association of School Boards, Illinois Association of School Administrators, and Illinois Association of School Business Officials.

The Burroughs Award for extraordinary leadership is named for the late chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education who also served as president of the Collinsville CUSD 10 board.

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