Ken Swanson says it is time to go.
After serving 28 years as Bellwood-Antis School District business manager and the last 16 years as school board secretary, Swanson is retiring.
"I was told when the time comes you will know it. Rich Tate [a retired English teacher] told me that about 10 years ago," Swanson said. "I said, 'Why continue when there are so many other opportunities?' I really enjoyed what I have done but it is time to move on and do different things. I believe I can have an impact in some other areas."
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Bellwood-Antis superintendent Dr. Brian Toth (left) and Ken Swanson, the school district’s business manager, stand in the office
at the Bellwood-Antis High School.
Superintendent Brian Toth has accepted Swanson's plan to retire and board members are expected to informally accept his retirement on Tuesday.
Swanson, 53, said he will remain on the job through March 1 to take care of the 2012-13 budget and to help with the transition to whoever is hired to succeed him.
Swanson grew up in Spangler and graduated from Northern Cambria High School in 1976. After serving in the Marine Corps for three years, he attended Cambria-Rowe Business College and received an associate degree in business in 1981.
After graduating from Cambria-Rowe, he was hired as business manager at Northern Cambria School District and worked there for four years before coming to Bellwood-Antis.
He later received a bachelor's degree in business management from St. Francis University in 2003.
Swanson said Bellwood-Antis gave him the opportunity to do more than just handle financial matters.
He served as varsity track coach for nine years, did the filming for varsity football games for 15 years and served as golf coach since 2005.
"The opportunity to do many different things allowed me not to become stagnant, not just doing business operations. I got a chance to work with teachers and kids," Swanson said. "Bellwood offered that. In a bigger school, I may not have had those opportunities to get involved to the level that I did."
He said he always appreciated the support of the community and school board.
"When I came, we had run down buildings, the physical plant was in need of upgrades. We have had people come and go on the board but they always had the same commitment to the community," Swanson said.
Swanson said he enjoyed the opportunities to work with the kids.
"It is nice when you see a kid achieve something, to see the look on kids faces when they achieve something is priceless," Swanson said.
Changes in technology made his job easier, Swanson said.
"Technology has enhanced the opportunity to provide more information at a quicker and faster pace," Swanson said. "We used to have to hand write and mail the budget; now we do it on the computer and upload it. About all we do involves technology to enhance the financial side and the student side."
Swanson said he will miss his co-workers.
"I really enjoy coming in here. I don't leave my office very much during the day and I know the people who are out there," Swanson said. "It is enjoyable to see the energy within the system."
Swanson, who recently received the 2012 Pennsylvania School Study Council's Award for Service to Education, has played a key role in the district.
"His talents have permitted him to oversee all maintenance, custodial and cafeteria personnel; coordinate security, transportation, cafeteria and facility needs. In fact, he acted as clerk of the works for our recently completed $14 million elementary school expansion," Toth said.
Toth also said Swanson has provided the district with sound financial guidance, advice and research.
"As a result, the district is in sound financial standing and has been since Mr. Swanson has held the position of business manager. I rely on his expertise and trust his recommendations without hesitation," Toth said.
Swanson's fellow office workers say he will be missed.
"He is a good guy. We hate to lose him. One of his best qualities is that he is a leader. I have a lot of admiration for him," said Faith Riling, board treasurer. "He can work on the boilers, the air conditioning and the phone system - he knows about everything."
"He probably does more for the school than anybody. He is definitely going to be missed," said Debbie Sitman, Toth's secretary.
Swanson said he hopes people remember him favorably.
"I hope they remember me as being fair and always looking at what was in the best interest of the school district," Swanson said.
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.