Part two: Citizen concern over shared superintendent postion in Lake Forest Districts 67 and 115 in IL

February 27, 2012

Part II of a two-part article about the hiring of Michael Simick as the new shared superintendents at Lake Forest, IL Districts 67 and 115, who seems to be a clone of present superintendent, Dr. Harry Griffith.

One job position Michael Simeck did seek in 2010 was superintendent at Bloomfield Hills Schools in Michigan. The search narrowed down to two candidates, Robert Glass and Michael Simeck. 

In interviews over two days (one candidate each day) and arranged by the search firm, School Exec Connect, Glass was selected over Simeck by the Bloomfield Hills Schools.  

Unlike the selection of Michael Simeck for superintendent in Lake Forest, there was an opportunity for community members to meet the two finalist candidates and to ask questions of Glass and Simeck when both were being considered for the Bloomfield Hills superintendent position.…2010…  CONNECTIONS – Bloomfield Hills Schools 

My concerns are many as to how Simeck was selected and the actual extent of promised community involvement over his selection, as well as the hurriedly arranged meeting to vote over and announce his selection.   

Why wasn’t this done at one of the regularly scheduled meetings in February?  Was there a reason to do it at a “special meeting” so the community would be caught unaware? Was it to avoid lumping it in with the Safer report at the Feb. 28 meeting?

Lack of community involvement was in full play at the Feb. 13 meeting, when the only comments permitted following the open session, and after the name of the superintendent and the terms of his contract were released, were those of Missy Burger, Spirit of 67 Foundation, and Elizabeth Nemickas.   

Their comments offered glowing accounts of Simeck and how he was heads and shoulders above the 99 other superintendent candidates.  All the while others present sat champing at the bit to express their concerns and opinions.  

It was refreshing that two of the District 67 board members did express their misgivings by voting “no” on approving Michael Simeck’s three-year contract, Laurie Rose and Bill Anderson.    

Rose noted how the NYC Chancellor of Schools oversees 1.1 million students and earns $213,000, while Michael Simeck will receive a base salary of $220,000, augmented by an additional $30,000 for managing two districts — with further perks and additional benefits forthcoming — to oversee  4,000 students with the aid of four assistant superintendents and six directors!…    

Why should taxpayers in Lake Forest and Lake Bluff be concerned that Simeck will receive almost $250,000 as his starting salary with additional perks that add up to measurably more? After all, don’t taxpayers footing the bill live in upscale communities where money is in abundance!   

On second thought, maybe taxpayers are not aware that Harry Griffith’s salary during the current 2011-2012 school year elevated him to the No. 1 spot as the highest paid superintendent in all of Illinois when adding up the equal compensation he receives from Districts 67 and 115 as a shared superintendent.  Griffith’s retirement pension is also out-of-the world! 

It is not unreasonable to conclude that by the time Simeck retires, his salary and retirement benefits will duplicate the lavish one that Griffth is now privy to through years of union bargaining.  

How is it that Simeck needs $500 per month in auto reimbursement?  It is appropriate to question whether Simeck will be given the car assigned and paid for by the Lake Forest School Districts, as will Griffith, upon his retirement?

Why don’t we just give Simeck the luxury automobile we gave Griffith to tool around town! How many luxury automobiles do we have to buy for our pampered Superintendents?

Simeck is sure to follow through with the 21st Century learning program, which is now being implemented in District 67 and which is not greeted enthusiastically by all parents in District 67. The Berkley School System under Simeck likewise has a technology intiative in place…

In observing a limited demonstration through a video presentation a few months ago of the 21st Learning Program at a District 67 board meeting, I perceived a disorganized and haphazard classroom learning situation which could possibly work well with brighter students, but which seemed destined to fail those students who required more hands on instruction by the teacher.…    

The on-going Mandarin Chinese program will also continue with Simeck’s blessing, although many question posed by citizens to board members still remain unanswered. 

The fact that District 67 board member, Laurie Rose, clearly identified the caveats of this proposal and the Board still pressed forward with a mandate, seems to indicate that the Board did not act on their own but under pressure from the superintendent. 

Isn’t the Board’s role to serve the taxpayer and the students, not the superintendent? 

Although opinions about the hiring of Simeck may vary, he certainly deserves watching and observing as he assumes his shared superintendent position at Lake Forest Districts 67 and 115 this summer.

Only then can it be determined  whether this choice is really what community input indicated, or whether the choice was determined more by the wishes of a small group that was involved in the final selection of Simeck to maintain the status quo in both districts.   


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