The Belvidere school district has had a rocky year dealing with overcrowding and underfunding. But since the board voted to save after-school activities they've got a chance at a fresh start next year and they'll have a new superintendent at the helm. He's the former superintendent in the North Boone district, Michael Houselog.
"It's a great opportunity, great school system and I was able to stay living in Boone County, which is a community that I really love," says Mr. Houselog.
School board members chose Houselog from a list of five options a search firm gathered. They say he stood out above the others.
"Very approachable, very people-oriented. He had a great knowledge of the history of the district and the challenges facing the district," says school board president Richard Van Evera.
Those challenges are numerous, especially financially. The district is now spending from its savings to fund operations at the new Belvidere North High School, without making major budget cuts. Deficit spending is a fiscally risky move, but Houselog is staying optomistic.
"Everybody in education has a lot of financial situations that we're all dealing with and I'm looking forward to these," he says.
Houselog doubts the North Boone district will have time to find a new superintendent by the start of next school year, but he says they have several options to pursue.
Meanwhile, the outgoing Belvidere leader Don Schlomann says he's feeling bittersweet about handing over the reins, but he's confident they're going to the right person.
"I think it will be an easy transition, at the same time he'll be able to push an emphasis on a new direction," says Dr. Schlomann.
Schlomann is leaving Belvidere to take over the St. Charles school district. Houselog will officially take over duties July 1st. He already has experience with overcrowded schools. North Boone was plagued with similar problems throughout his four years there.
The district's financial advisor gave a tentative look Monday night at the 07-08 budget Houselog will inherit. The advisor expects the district to be more than $188,000 in the hole. But that's due to bond payments for Belvidere North and it's subject to change as taxes come in.