• Peter M. Gombert [1944-1996]

    Peter M. Gombert was known by many as "the consummate professional." He served for 21 years directing the business affairs and construction projects in Indian Prairie School District 204.

    Mr. Gombert was an outstanding school administrator who had a firm grip on school finance, but those who knew him well remember him as a good friend and a man of high principles and great integrity.

    Mr. Gombert started his career in school finance in 1971 as assistant business manager in Naperville District 203. He came to Indian Prairie in 1974 and eventually became associate superintendent for business, forging a reputation of hard work, dedication, and caring. He retired in 1995 and planned to continue working for District 204, but his plans were disrupted by his illness. Mr. Gombert died quietly on November 16, 1996 at Loyola Medical Center.

    He took very seriously his responsibilities to his family, friends, and business associates and never asked more of people than he asked of himself. His conservative, tight-fisted approach to school financial management brought him a reputation of the highest standards of excellence among his peers. Peter Gombert was more than a financial manager, however, he was a people manager and took District 204 through many difficult times and challenging situations.

    Mr. Gombert was credited with putting together a "blueprint of the future" for District 204 schools. He drew up a 15-year projection of finances that was unheard of in public education. Part of that blueprint was the $97.25 million referendum that passed in March of 1994 which paid for the new Neuqua Valley High School and five other buildings. The program matched the district's growth precisely.

    "On time under budget" was Mr. Gombert's slogan, and he is credited with saving millions of dollars for the taxpayers in the state's fastest-growing school district by "cloning" schools instead of building each from scratch. He helped lead the district's multi-year campaign to exempt new construction from the state's mandatory five percent property tax cap, thus providing relief for school districts caught in explosive growth. He also was the inspiration for District 204's push to take an active role in reactivating the state's Capital Development Board to issue grants to repair, renovate and add to local schools to assist in reducing overcrowded facilities.

    Peter M. Gombert was a behind-the-scenes person of high integrity. Perhaps this was best demonstrated when he led a team of District 204 staff members who volunteered to help put the Plainfield School District back on its feet after the destructive tornado in 1990. "He went down there and oversaw the renovation of St. Mary's School so that students from Plainfield High could go to school," said Dr. Thomas Scullen, then superintendent in Indian Prairie. Underneath the granite-like exterior, Mr. Gombert was "a real softie," Dr. Scullen said. "People around the district know how kind-hearted he was."  He was caring and generous, especially when someone really needed help.

    Fellow administrators and friend Dr. Joseph Chiusolo agreed. "He was a very compassionate, gentle man, someone who really left a permanent mark on District 204. He was one of the best school business managers I've ever known.  He always put welfare of the kids first."