Summer Butler Bungalo Questionnaire Responses
1. Please provide some biographical information including age, where you grew up, education, current job, family info and how long you have lived in Berwyn
I am a 46 year old mother of a five year old daughter named Kamille and a 17 year old college bound son named Kelly. I have been married for 17 years. I’m a Nazareth Alumni and Loyola and Dominican University graduate. A Maywood native, I have resided in Berwyn since 2010.
I am a youth mentor and community organizer. I have been a certified teacher for twenty-four years. I’ve taught all grades in K-9 except 5th grade. I obtained an English as a Second Language endorsement in 2017 in an effort to build greater equity and best practices after teaching in Black and Brown communities. I have a limited working proficiency in Spanish Speaking, Reading, and Writing.
I’ve co-written curriculum in several school networks and participated in school leadership and cultural committees. I also have a proven track record in closing student achievement gaps and have been instrumental in students’ admittances to advanced programs and selective enrollment high schools. I am passionate about students and seeing them thrive! Additionally, I have been a Student Council Advisor, Girls Basketball Coach, BEA union representative & Scripps Spelling Bee Coordinator.
I was recently granted a full tuition academic scholarship by the Illinois Principals Association (100 awarded across the state) and am pursuing my second Master’s degree in Educational Leadership with a Type 75 certification.
I currently serve on the Educator Advisory Council with Advance Illinois, a school advocacy vehicle that the superintendent also sits on, the Morton West PTO as Board Secretary, and the Awake Board of Directors, a local nonprofit organization.
2. Please provide activities and experience in the community that you have.
My experience in the community began when I joined the PTA. I was soon voted in to serve the PTA board at Emerson as Secretary in 2010, the year that I moved to Berwyn and enrolled my son into Kindergarten. It awarded me the opportunity to be an agency of change through coordinating great community building activities that created a vibrant school school culture. During my time served, I assisted in the yarn art, art bench, door mural, art history lesson, parent in the classroom project, carnival, holiday events, and end of the year picnics.
I eventually got shuffled to Piper for 3rd-5th grade. Through the transition, I began finding other ways to integrate into the community and with parents through visiting the Berwyn Public Library, various community events like the Berwyn Historical Society Bike Tour and groups like the Run/Walk Club started by Leighton Shell. I registered and attended classes at the Berwyn Rec and Berwyn Park District. I learned how to sew and my son learned how to do magic. Win. Win.
I attended a mix of library board, school board, PTA, and city council meetings and a whole lot of soccer, baseball, and basketball games from Morton College to Baseball Alley.
In 2021, I organized an inaugural Juneteenth UNITY Fest, the first culturally Black event in Berwyn and celebrated the second annual Berwyn FOOD Fest in Proksa Park that had over 50 vendors and organizations. Both events included food and live entertainment as well as history and were free and open to the public. I believe in equity and fair practices for everyone.
In 2022, I joined the Awake Board of Directors which has strengthened my skills in coordinating both fundraising and “friends raising” events that are based on the needs and interests of the community. It takes a bit of ingenuity and resolve to continually build engagement and sustain a healthy financial background in a nonprofit. Similar to the law of physics, you can’t take out something without putting something in!
3. Why are you running for the school board? What objectives do you hope the district achieves while you are on the board?
I would utilize this opportunity to engage all stakeholders to elevate
students in the same way I've found successes in the classroom beyond teaching. I can be instrumental through coordinating great community building activities that create a vibrant school culture and relationship to the community.
Effective teachers use a backwards design to implement lessons to students. I am passionate about creating a path for student advocacy and agency and I use my skill set to translate that. I’d love to contribute my skills to the future of our community and school through the school board.
My goal is to implement better alignment of instruction in ELA and Math and built-in time to master good instructional strategies. I will help strategize the craftful use of resource staff and stronger support for teachers.
These initiatives, in turn, would help retain good teachers and raise test scores.
4. For non-incumbents, how many school board meetings did you attend before September of 2022?
I’ve attended D100 school board meetings since 2017 and D201 school board meetings since 2021. I’ve attended at least two B98 school board and north berwyn park district meetings as well to analyze data and make comparisons. I’ve attended police meetings. Additionally, I stay engaged through a network of neighbors that attend the different meetings across our community to understand the happenings. Our discourse helps us see the big picture of how Berwyn operates and understand the patterns that ultimately translate into educational funding and city taxes.
5. What organizations are supporting your candidacy (either implicitly or explicitly)? What public officials or current or former elected officials are supporting your candidacy?
I am supported by:
Alderman Joe Carmichael
Alderman Rob Pabon
South Berwyn Education Association
6. COVID - The district's test scores dropped from 30% in 2019 to 18% in 2022 in English and from 30% in 2019 to 17% in 2022 in Math. Statewide scores did not drop as dramatically.
What do you think the district should do to try to catch students up academically?
Both parents and students thrive from socially, emotionally, and culturally responsive curriculum and programming. There is no magic pill, super curriculum, or strategy that will fix test scores. However, relationship building is key to increasing scores and changing the mindset. Students have to believe that they have a chance.
The skills that I have gained beyond merely teaching a lesson are immeasurable in my teaching and mentoring background. I've attended students' activities outside of school. I’ve created relationships with parents that extend beyond academics or behavior.
My knack for addressing a need is best illustrated when I extended an already awesome 6th grade college field trip to a junior high after school program one semester. I created a College and Career Club at a charter school. It fit a niche of first generation, college bound students It allowed them to explore careers or colleges online and through books like, What Color is Your Parachute? that I purchased through a Donors Choose grant.
I scheduled several college counselor visits and held a mock college interview with two colleagues that had held interview experience in their alma maters including Brown University. Students visualized themselves at a point of success further than they did initially.
7. Working class families leave District 100 - Enrollment has declined in District 100 over the past 5 years from between 3700 to 3800 students to 3100 students. The percentage of families with a median income below the national average also declined from 81% to 64%.
Why do you think working class families have been leaving the district? Do you believe that this is an issue that District 100 should address?
I have been successful in developing, implementing, & managing youth education & support programs. I’ve been a participant in numerous programs, training, & conventions. I have been a recruiter of community members for projects & creator of innovative programming based on needs and interests. I believe this will be a great role to transition into more of a moderator of educational issues.
I know what is necessary to maintain a healthy school district. In my capacity as a teacher, I’ve been able to set the vision and goals of several ideas, offered instructive feedback and contributed ideas on different initiatives.
8. Racism - Sarah Lopez, a former member of the District 100 board, was fired from her job with the city of Berwyn for making racial slurs against a city contractor. She resigned from the District 100 board after the incident became public.
There was also a case in the district where the district was sued by an African-American family because their daughter was allegedly pulled by her hair through the hall by a district administrator.
Do you think the termination of Lopez from her employment with the city and her resignation from the board was justified? Or do you believe that she was unjustly terminated?
What efforts do you think the district should undertake to be racially more sensitive?
I hope to answer your question with an anecdote. A year ago, I organized a call to action meeting on embedding cultural inclusion into the curriculum and district on March 3, 2022 at the LaVergne Education Center with Superintendent Havis, Assistant Superintendent and Beatriz Maldonado. I asked two Caucasian teachers that work in Riverside that are Berwyn residents and the 5th Ward Alderman Rob Pabon to also attend the meeting.
For the meeting, I painstakingly prepared a timeline of Black History outside of US slavery and a comprehensive list of instructional resources, websites that included the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and links. I asked two teachers that resemble the majority of D100 to speak from their perspective on teaching subjects out of their comfort zone and natural realm of knowledge.
The district heads were appalled that I brought these people to the meeting and reiterated their commitment to diversity and equity while replaying slides from their school board presentation that merely consisted of a digital database of books by female authors and authors of color.
There was no instructional plan that aligned the curriculum or built-in support for the teachers to use this database.
An Equity Committee was created, but the school board didn’t really support it other than in name.
9. Dress code - District 100 currently has a dress code for students in the upper grades. Do you support or oppose the dress code? Please explain why.
I am in opposition of the dress code in D100 upper grades for young women primarily in consideration of our menstrual cycle. I believe a darker color of pants would promote greater equity and dissipate misogynist themes. The community has demonstrated strong and consistent views about the uniform policy across Berwyn from north to south and in the high school distinct 201. It is possible the policy cannot be in the true interest of parents and students if it's the parents and students that have protested against it for so long.
10. Tax increase - In 2017, the tax levy increased by 50% from $13.5 million to $19.5 million due to a tax rate increase. Residents had passed a tax rate increase referendum that proponents stated would increase the levy by 15%, not 50%. To rectify the situation, the board rolled back the tax rate increase. Another plan that was presented to the board was to keep the tax rate as is and abate money back to the taxpayer.
If you had served on the board at the time, which plan (tax rate rollback or abatement) would you have supported? Please explain why.
I don’t have enough information to answer this question. Cost vs. Benefit to the district and the taxpayers. The public hasn’t received enough information about it to date.
11. Use of look-back to restore tax rate - In 2019, the district had the option of undoing the tax rate rollback from the previous year using the "lookback" option allowed under state law.
The board passed a levy in 2019 that used the lookback option and increased the tax levy by 10%, which was above the cost of living cap.
If you had served on the board at the time, would you have supported or opposed the use of the lookback to increase the tax levy by 10% and restore the previous tax rate? Please explain why?
I don’t have enough information to answer this. Cost vs. Benefit to the district and the taxpayers. Due to the lack of transparency or unresolved board conclusions, I’m not sure anyone in the public can determine a justified answer to this question.
12. Ridgeland Estates - In 2021, the city approved a project to build 29 single family homes on the property at 3000 Ridgeland, the area immediately north of Freedom Middle School. Part of the proposal was to use the Freedom School driveway as the south alley to the homes and to give the district the property west of Freedom School where a storm water detention vault for the homes would be built. In exchange, the district would receive $250,000 in TIF funds to build a parking lot west of the school and the alley would have served as a second fire lane to the west side of the school. The originally proposed contract between the city and the developer specified that the developer would receive all of its TIF money before District 100 received any TIF money.
Many people opposed the project because of traffic safety concerns and other issues. Others supported the plan because the district would get a parking lot and a second fire lane.
Did you support or oppose the proposal? If you had been on the board at the time, how would you have voted? Please explain why?
I did not support the idea of the Ridgeland Estates project. I would have vehemently voted against it. Most importantly, that project did not support kids in the least. Nor would it have benefitted the majority of Berwyn taxpayers. To add insult to injury, that is such a congested region of Ridgeland with just a school and train stop already there, it would have been a nightmare for both existing and newly installed residents.
13. Purchase of 3000 Ridgeland - In October of 2022, the district purchased the property at 3000 Ridgeland from Kasper Development, the developer that was going to build the Ridgeland Estates homes. Kasper had purchased the property from Physician's Records for $900,000 the year before and had razed the property. The assessed value of the property at the time District 100 purchased the property was less than $800,000. The district purchased the property for $2.4 million.
Do you support or oppose the purchase of the property at 3000 Ridgeland for $2.4 million? If you had been on the board at the time, how would you have voted? Please explain why?
On its face, there does not appear to be any legitimate reason why the board paid $2.4 mil without a plan for the use on a property previously valued at $800,000. Although Freedom School could really use more space for parking and public walking space, no other information has ever been shared to the public. As a resident, I am unaware of any development or redevelopment plans for the space or around the space of Freedom. That information has not yet been disclosed. The deed is done so some smart discussion of how to re envision the space is vital. This needs to be further discussed in at least a series of town hall meetings. The community has something to say.
14. Depot District TIF extension - In May of 2019, the city presented to the district a proposal to extend the Depot District TIF district for 12 years. Extending the TIF district would cost the district a loss of property tax revenue of $4.8 million dollars over the 12 year period.
Do you support or oppose the extension of the Depot District TIF? Please explain your reasoning?
I would not want to support the expansion of the Depot District TIF. The details over TIFs in the past have remained murky up to the last minute. To me that illustrates how conflicting it is for one side. It has already been demonstrated that TIFs don’t really benefit the school community, but businesses. And that’s another conversation that needs to be had in the city council to further dissect the bits. These type of decisions should be open and accessible to community involvement.