After 47 years in education, Ken Boyer was three years into his retirement when he got an offer he didn’t want to refuse.
The Pettisville Board of Education on Monday selected Boyer to act as interim superintendent for the district for the 2020-21 school year. His duties will end next year on July 31.
With his retirement travels and activities waylaid by the coronavirus pandemic, a restless Boyer was driving vehicles for a car dealership to keep busy. That’s when the offer to jump back into a superintendent position, however temporary, was made. And leading Pettisville schools was too tempting an offer.
“I was very much aware of the Pettisville school district, so the draw would be that you’re going into a well-established school district that does a lot of good things,” he said. “You’re going into a good situation to maintain, and build on, if you can,” he said.
A graduate of Bowling Green State University and Akron University, Boyer, 71, will take the helm from longtime superintendent Steve Switzer, who plans to retire at the end of this July. A Leipsic, Ohio, resident, Boyer will make the daily 40-minute commute from home, and said he’s excited for the new challenge.
He was one of several candidates presented for the position by the Northwest Ohio Educational Service Center. Boyer will maintain the superintendent’s position while allowing the school district to conduct a thorough search for a permanent replacement.
“My plan is to get up to speed with what they’re doing and try to help wherever I can,” he said. That means working with a committee the school district formed to ensure a safe place for students to learn within the state’s pandemic guidelines.
Boyer views the collaborative plan among the county’s school superintendents to reopen classrooms in August as workable and secure.
“I think it’s our obligation to make it as safe as possible,”he said. “I believe that the kids want to come back to school, and I think most parents want them to come back. But I think they want them to come back in as safe an environment as possible, and so that’s our obligation.”
He admits that leading a school district during a worldwide pandemic “will be completely different than anything I’ve experienced. That’s probably going to be the focus throughout the start of the school year…The challenge is, the landscape keeps changing as things happen in the State of Ohio. It’s going to be a challenge to keep up with the changes that are passed down, and try to maintain some consistency.”
Boyer said his long-term mission will be to maintain the workings of a good school district while he assists with the selection process for a permanent superintendent. And after acting as superintendent for the North Central, Green, Millcreek-West Unity, and Leipsic school districts over his lengthy career, he chooses not to forego retirement to throw his hat into the ring.
“That would be a pretty tough decision to continue after the year,” he said.
For that reason, Boyer has no agenda for the position. “I just plan to work with the board, administrators, and staff and students just to maintain a really good school district and to keep it going in a good direction,” he said.
He was drawn to a career in education while a student at Hilltop High School in West Unity, where he graduated in 1967.
“It’s not just a job, it’s a life’s work, a commitment,” Boyer said. “As a superintendent you’re committed to a community, to make them proud of their school district, to build a good school district. It’s very rewarding to do that.”
Calling the Pettisville school district “a well-oiled machine that educates kids well,” he said he simply wants to keep that tradition going. Boyer said he’s impressed with the facilities, the strong academics, and the well-behaved students.
“I haven’t identified anything that needs to be improved,” he said. “It’s a very supportive community that likes their school and supports education. That’s just a tremendous thing to be part of.”
Switzer said the school board made an excellent choice selecting Boyer. “He has a lot of experience in districts similar to Pettisville, he is widely-respected by his colleagues, and will serve the district and students well,” he said. “I am pleased to have Ken as my successor…Pettisville is fortunate to have a gentlemen of his abilities as its leader.”
Boyer’s background as a superintendent in similarly-sized school districts stood out, Board of Education President Brent Hoylman said.
“We were blessed to find someone with Ken’s experience who is willing to take on the challenge of leading our school for a year that will most certainly not be like any other year during his tenure in education,” he said.
Boyer said he’s eager for the opportunity, and said it should prove fruitful “as long as we can get through this virus thing safely. That’s going to be a challenge.”
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.