New School Board President Steps Up


courtesy Emily Berry

Emily Berry began her term as the Shorewood School Board President in April of 2023

This past April, Shorewood welcomed new School Board president, Emily Berry. Berry initially joined the board in 2019 after exploring her love for civic engagement within the Village.

“I started volunteering at Lake Bluff when both of my kids were there…[and soon] I thought that I could really make a difference beyond the individual school level,” Berry said.

“I [felt] strongly that regular people, and women in particular, need to be running for office at every level of government,” Berry said. “I continued to stay engaged with the district and by then it was sort of like a habit; I couldn’t quit.”

Berry brings student centered values to her position, and is concerned with what is best for the students before anything else.

“I really go for what serves [students] best and not even what parents think is best, but what the evidence says,” Berry said. “That is sometimes challenging, to push back [certain] ideas about what is best and really just staying within that belief.”

Being voted in by current School Board members, Berry acquires the position at a time of uncertainty about the changes for next school year. Teacher retirements and staff reductions will alter Shorewood.

“I think students will feel some change for sure and we know that, even when we try to minimize change or impact,” Berry said.

Over the past few years, Shorewood school’s staffing has increased, while student enrollment has decreased overall, creating a split between once parallel lines. The District is currently undergoing right-sizing, reducing staff size to meet the proper number of students and class sizes. 

I [felt] strongly that regular people, and women in particular, need to be running for office…

“I don’t think anybody feels that there are extra people wandering around in the district, but because of the way funding works and how enrollment is based, we really need to start to close that gap,” Berry said. “We are trying to get to a sustainable staffing level that includes teachers and administrators so that we can meet students’ needs but also operate to be financially stable.”

Passing the operating referendum was the first step to financial stability for Berry and the Board.

“We are going to take that opportunity to really try to get to a place where we can operate without that additional income, and that we can build up a strong fund balance,” Berry said. “[We are looking for] funding mechanisms so that it would be more cost effective and sustainable.”

My first job is helping our superintendent get grounded and really set her up for success.

To Berry, building up the fund balance would mean lowering health insurance costs, and receiving lower interest rates when the District borrows money.

“There are so many ripple effects to [the operating referendum], so it’s more than just creating a big pot of money in the fund balance, but is a proxy for our overall financial stability.”

Looking to the future, Berry encourages prolonging the referendum conversation, even after its expiration date in five years.

“We are going to continue to advocate for a better, more predictable funding formula from the state…[in the next few months] that picture will become clearer and I think then it will allow us to get a better idea of what we need to do in the next two years.”

In the short term, Berry is working with Laurie Burgos, new Superintendent, to continue to work with the Board before her official start July 1

“My first job is helping our superintendent get grounded and really set her up for unmitigated success,” Berry said. “I really want to see her thrive here, because I think that what the district and our students need and deserve is a highly effective leader who brings stability to the district.”