Our school has been blessed with many school families who have been extremely generous and supportive of helping our school by devoting tremendous amounts of their time and talent. None, however, has a stronger resume than Mike Simmons.
Mike and his wife, Diane, sent three children through our school. Between the time their eldest daughter, Katie, entered kindergarten in 1995 until their son, Jonathan, graduated in 2008, Mike amassed an amazing body of work in terms of the leadership he brought to our school. All told, he served for six years each on both the School Board and Advancement Board, and was president for three years for each body. Between those stints he spent a year on the Athletic Association.
Under Mike’s leadership there were many improvements to the physical plant including having the City of Naperville passing an ordinance that allows us to block Ellsworth St. to through traffic during school hours. He also oversaw the transformation of the lower level of the elementary building from REO office space to a library and computer lab. His most notable achievement, however, was as the architect of the Professional Educators Benefit Plan (PEBP) renamed the Teachers Supplemental Income Plan in 2018.
The creation of the PEBP was an acknowledgment to the reality that we were going through a period in the late 1990’s when excellent teachers were resigning at an alarming rate. Their exodus had nothing to do with lack of parent support, class size, or leadership. Rather it was due to low salaries and teachers being at the stage of their lives when they needed to begin preparing for upcoming college costs, provide for their retirement, and enjoy some of the creature comforts most take for granted.
Upon analyzing the situation, Mike informed his fellow School Board members that our teachers were earning, on average, only 60% of what they could earn in Naperville School District 203. Our teachers were degreed, certified, and competent to be hired by any public school system but were being penalized for seeking to work in a faith-filled environment. In essence, their low salaries were funding 40% of the true cost of educating our children.
As both a matter of social justice as well as a practical incentive to maintain a quality staff, Mike Simmons led the charge for the PEBP. With a goal of bringing the teachers’ salaries, as an aggregate, to 80% of what they could make in D. 203, the bold plan he conceived supplements the diocesan based salaries and also builds in incentives for teachers to seek more education.
When Mike joined the Advancement Board, one of their main tasks was working with diocesan officials to rewrite the Trust Agreement which governs endowments for all school in the diocese. The existing document at the time was so generic that it would leave all schools and parishes vulnerable to lawsuits. Mike put together a team of knowledgeable finance people that served on our Board and who were also able to lead the diocese into a new trust document that not only protects assets, but also allows schools to do a three-year cost averaging of endowment balances as of December 31, thus ensuring that revenues will be available at all times, not just in the years when the stock market was strong.
For all of his efforts, Mike was inducted into our school’s Hall of Honors in 2012 at which time Advancement Director, Frank Glowaty, announced the creation of the Mike Simmons Good and Faithful Servant Award. This award is presented annually at an all school Mass to a school parent who goes above and beyond in providing leadership for our school.