Part 2: Might New Lake Forest Superintendent be a Clone of Griffith?

My concerns are many as to how Michael Simeck was selected and the actual extent of promised community involvement over his selection as announced at a hurriedly arranged meeting.


Part II of a two-part blog. See Part I.

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. www.bloomfield.org/download/category/22?download...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! http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2011/04/07/nyc-schools-chancelor-cathie-black-stepping-down/    

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.  http://lf67.org/district/21st_century/technology_files/21st%20Century%20Cassroomsrevised.pdf    

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.   

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Mark Stein February 25, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Administrator's compensation, including retirement incentives, is not bargained by a union. They, including the Superintendent, bargain as individuals. Trying to blame "union bargaining" is simply false.
Deadcatbounce February 26, 2012 at 05:56 AM
Pension for sup and administrators are paid out of Teacher retirement system (TRS) and is based on same rules as teachers. You are wrong Mr. stein.
Mark Stein February 26, 2012 at 07:58 AM
Try reading what was written. The author states that the Superintendent's salary and retirement benefits are the result of "union bargaining." The Superintendent's salary isn't negotiated by a union. Pensions are set by state law. It is true that teacher unions have opposed cuts in those benefits. Its not true that they resulted from collective bargaining.
Hmmmm6 February 29, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Mrs. Thorner, perhaps you are too busy writing these criticisms to enjoy the transparency you have encouraged, or perhaps transparency is not your true goal. The District 115 board announced the 2-13-12 meeting at their 1-10-12 meeting, which you would know if you either attended the meeting or viewed the online videos. The 2-13 meeting was not hastily arranged, as you suggested, but rather, was announced well in advance. Further, the first video for the 2-13-12 meeting on the 115 web site describes the selection process they followed, which I suggest readers go to, and decide for themselves. I did not participate in this process but it sounded pretty complete to me. Both boards, administrators, teachers, counselors, and a number of parent and community representatives did participate and gave collectively, hundreds of hours, without compensation. They seem to have given it their best efforts. Further, at the 115 Board meeting, as least two other board members objected to the failure to tie compensation to performance standards, with a good discussion and comments by at least two other members who voted in favor of the contract. One thing stood out though. Everyone liked this guy enormously. So let's give him a chance. Jay Hoffman gave the strongest endorsement, in my view. He said that Simeck, of all the candidates, was focused on the kids. I wish the same could be said of your complaints.
Dan Rather 2.0 February 29, 2012 at 08:58 PM
oh nancy, it's ashame you're so consumed with District 67, a district in which you don't even pay taxes or have vesting. Clearly there is something else at work and it's ashame that you, yourself, lack the transparency to describe your own connection and issues. Had you stuck around, you would have found that District 115 board held its REGULAR meeting immediately after the District 67 special meeting. The "special" meeting was set only to allow 115 to follow it with their own vote; because, as you know the districts share the superintendent. As for community involvement, perhaps you've forgotten all of the community forums held last year to gain citizen input...you were there though, right? Or, perhaps, you have taken your lack of inclusion in the interview process as a sign that community input was missing. Don't be a fool. Your lack of inclusion arose for your lack of credibility and your inability to be constructive and honest. You're a bomb thower, nothing more. Why you're given the time of day is a mystery to many.


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