Candidate Name: Susan Taylor-Demming
Office Seeking: School District 204 School Board
Campaign Website: www.susantaylordemming4204.com
Subdivision/Neighborhood: Eagle Pointe
Closest School: White Eagle Elementary
Occupation and/or Professional Training: I am the Director of Leadership Giving at Elgin Community College, where I lead Major Gifts, Planned Giving and Endowments for the ECC Foundation
How long in years have you been a Naperville resident? 25 years
Service on Boards, Commissions, Task Forces, etc. with dates served (nonprofit too):
Girl Scouts of Lisle (1999-2001)
IPSD 204 Board Member – Current, first elected in 2017
Naperville Heritage Society – Current Board Member
The following answers have only been edited for formatting purposes.
1. Why are you running to serve the board of education?
I am running for reelection to continue being a Servant Leader with a desire to provide the best academic, social and emotional opportunities for students. My commitment is to provide the resources necessary for all students to thrive and reach for success while in IPSD 204 and beyond.
2. What is the school district’s most pressing need?
Our current most pressing need is finding the way back for in-school classes as soon as safely is possible for our students and staff. Yet, it is just as vital for the district to provide a robust and rigorous remote educational experience for those students who will wait to return to in person learning.
3. What are your thoughts on the school district’s programs dedicated toward special education students, English Language Learners (ELL), students in the middle and gifted students?
Very proud of the district’s dedication to meet the varying needs of multiple facets of our student population. Our staff is extremely well versed in current educational pedagogy to assist all students with special needs and ELL requirements. We provide excellent opportunities with our elementary/middle school Project Arrow programs and at the high school level we are focusing on providing additional AP/Honors opportunities for students who may not have been identified in the past, but with the proper resources have an excellent potential to succeed in more challenging coursework.
4. Name three District 204 policies that need review or immediate attention.
During our November board retreat, we re-evaluated board goals and re-aligned them in light of the Pandemic. I feel our Board Goals are appropriate and they are:
- Return students to in person instruction, safely, as soon as possible;
- Continue the Board of Education’s proactive, collaborative, and on-going commitment to equity;
- Investigate, authorize, and analyze future student populations and school capacities;
- Focus on public education advocacy as it relates to our IPSD community, local, state and federal governments;
- Be an efficient and effective Governing Board
5. How often are you in touch with members of the current School Board? And do you attend/watch school board meetings live or after they’re saved in the archive?
I am a current board member, so in communication with my co-board members constantly throughout the week.
6. What up-and-coming City of Naperville/City of Aurora development will impact School District 204 funding the most? As a board member, where would you look to make budget adjustments?
City of Naperville – The City Gate West development has the potential to challenge our budget. We continue to work with the City of Naperville to find a mutual understanding on the Impact Fees that result as a process of student generation tables. We are not in agreement regarding the earliest time students would be seen and the number of students that would materialize, but we have always had a strong working relationship with the City of Naperville and will continue to work towards agreement.
The City of Aurora has planned development along the Route 59 corridor for a number of years. We could have been negatively impacted by the prior Tax Increment Financing proposals from the City. Over a period of three years, we have worked with the City and have entered into an Intergovernmental Agreement that will allow us to work together and ensure we are not negatively impacted by developmental properties from a tax perspective. This is a creative opportunity and one we hope to share at the state level with IASB in order for other school districts to consider in their work with local governments regarding new property developments.
7. In a public relations role, how would you orientate a new family to the school district?
District 204 is a welcoming district, a very diverse district and one that prides itself on providing opportunities for students to participate in a multitude of activities from elementary through high school. District 204 is a high achieving district and our students annually are academically competitive at the state level. We are a district where parents are actively engaged and staff readily welcome parental involvement. Students and families take pride in their home schools and pride in Indian Prairie School District 204. When you share that you are from IPSD 204, there is strong recognition of excellence in academics and extracurricular activities throughout our district.
8. Consider K-12 core curriculum to include English (reading, language arts writing), science, technology, engineering, mathematics, arts (STEAM), foreign languages, computer science, civics/government/current events, economics, history, geography, physical education/health and social-emotional learning standards. If the school district were forced to eliminate a subject in order to add a new one, what would you eliminate? Any thought of what you would add at what grade level? What’s the parents’ role in monitoring curriculum changes and choices?
I feel our curriculum is where it should be, so elimination is not a tactic I would support, but I welcome enhancement of our curriculum and there are areas underway to do just that. Culturally responsive and relevant curriculums are important for our district to include across all grade levels. Assessing our current materials to ensure they are up to date and reflect the highest pedagogy is critical (our staff is always on top of this area and we receive updates on suggested curriculum changes when they are proposed). When changes are suggested, they are made available for review by parents, additional staff and anyone in the community prior to acceptance. That review availability is usually a minimum of 4 weeks. Parents definitely have a right to ask questions about any change in curriculum so they are up to date on what is happening in their child’s classroom. Staff will often make parents aware when changes in instruction methods occur, so they are aware of new formats being used to teach courses (ex. new math strategies at the elementary level so parents can become familiar with new tactics as they assist their students at home).
9. Research reveals that high self-esteem and student achievement are closely related to positive parental involvement in school. Considering growing interest in school choice, home-schooling and private schools, what are your thoughts on school vouchers?
I do not support school vouchers for our district. We provide extremely high educational opportunities for our students (academic, sports, extra-curricular and after school activities. In addition, we are are already challenged with the revenue/pupil and expense/pupil as compared to other districts (ex. we spend $12,641/pupil vs $15,699/pupil(Dist 203) and receive ($15,212/pupil vs 203’s $18,995), yet we continue to have extremely high academic success rates. Vouchers are more of a consideration in districts where parents are concerned about the quality of education in their public venues – we provide an extremely high quality of education for our students.
10. When was the last time you read the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights?
My husband, daughters and I read the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights together in July 2020 as we were discussing the Voting Rights Act and what it did and did not provide for at a national level and in individual states.
11. Have you received any donations or endorsements from any organized group(s)? If so, which groups?
I have not received any donations from organized groups. I have received endorsements from individual persons but not any groups.
12. Name the school teacher who most influenced you. Please include grade, school, city and state. (Parents/family are not eligible.)
The teacher that most influenced me was my Science and AP Science teacher in high school, Mr Vatkunas – Stuttgart American High School – Ludwisburg, Germany
Anything else you’d like to add?
I look forward to continuing to represent IPSD 204 in an exemplary manner. I thank you for your support and appreciate your vote on April 6th. #7 – Susan Taylor-Demming