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West Campus principal is ready to lead District 156

McHENRY – Whatever financial difficulties District 156 has, they’re the responsibility of the adults who run the school system, the district’s next superintendent said.

The McHenry High School District 156 board signed a three-year contract with Mike Roberts, who has been West Campus’ principal for four years. He is likely to retire at the end of those three years.

He’s been with the school nearly 20 years, moving up from dean of students to assistant principal to principal.

He graduated from the school in 1975 and married his high school sweetheart, Karen Roberts. His three children also went to the school. He played football and was an offensive lineman at Lakeland College in Sheboygan, Wis.

He looks back on his high school years as some of the best times of his life, and he said he wants the students currently in the district – and the ones to come – to have that same experience.

“It’s up to us as adults to provide them with a stable environment where they don’t need to worry about those things, to make sure all those things come together so our kids can have the time of their life,” Roberts said.

A referendum asking whether the district could put the $2.2 million it saved in refinancing its bonds toward technology and security improvements failed in April.

The district has been operating at a deficit, even with a levy increase in 2011 and millions of dollars in cuts in recent years. The school board also voted to raise its levy this past December.

“There’s always [funding] concerns, but I’m not going to dwell on things that we can’t necessarily control,” Roberts said. “Funding in education, it isn’t something unique to McHenry. Everyone is having to do more with less.

“The job of the superindent is to make sure we balance our budgets and we provide quality education. Those tasks are becoming more and more difficult, but there’s no question that we can and we will do that.”

Roberts said he also is looking at continuing the data-driven initiatives that have been started, in particular using the data to design and add courses.

“We just need to continue to do things better, always, always tweaking what we have, and when something doesn’t work any longer, you’ve got to get rid of it,” he said.

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