In recent years, Harry Rochner has put together a bucket list of nearly 20 things he wants to accomplish in life.
It’s organized on a spreadsheet, and some of the goals are highlighted in blue, showing that he already has accomplished them but may want to do them again.
After Oct. 31, 2016, he will be able to check off more of those items. That’s because he is retiring after being Brownstown Central Community School Corp.’s business manager for more than 25 years.
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“You’re very proud to be a part of this corporation. But the closer (retirement) gets, it’s probably going to get harder,” Rochner said. “I really didn’t think it would be that hard because of the fact that I do have a lot of interests outside of here. But I’ve found it being more difficult to make that separation than I thought it was going to be. You start seeing your job posted, and the realization really hits that you are leaving.”
Superintendent Greg Walker plans on having the position filled by July 1 so Rochner can help train his successor and answer any questions.
Given Rochner’s knowledge and experience, Walker said he was reluctant to ask the school board to accept the retirement.
“He is recognized throughout Indiana as one of the best business managers in the state. He frequently receives calls seeking his advice and guidance, which he humbly gives,” Walker said. “On a personal note, I wish to thank him for his friendship, guidance and support and wish him a long, happy and prosperous retirement.”
Rochner is a lifelong Brownstown resident, having graduated in 1972 from Brownstown Central High School, where he was a three-sport athlete.
After graduating from Hanover College in 1976, he worked for three different industries until learning Brownstown was in need of a corporation business manager. He began in that position in 1991.
During his tenure, Rochner said one of the biggest changes in his job was going from a handwritten basic grant formula to doing that on the computer. That formula is used to determine state revenue the school corporation receives.
With interests in accounting and math, Rochner said he always has enjoyed working with the budgets, especially the capital projects fund.
“When you work with the principals and the teachers and all of the support staff as well as the superintendent and the board and you mold a capital projects plan, most of those are physical type of things you’re doing,” he said. “So when you do that planning and you get that finished, you can see the results of that plan.”
Some of the projects Rochner is proud to have been a part of was adding an auditorium, an auxiliary gymnasium and a science wing at the high school; constructing a sixth-grade wing at the middle school; and adding a multipurpose room at Freetown Elementary School, all of which were completed about 15 years ago.
“That was a big project overall with some really nice things being done in the corporation,” he said. “I’m real proud of the auditorium for the community and the kids’ choir concerts, musicals and public gatherings.”
Sometimes, projects don’t get approved by the school board, which was the case about three years ago with technology improvements. But Rochner and school officials pulled together some resources and reworked the plans, and the project was approved.
That resulted in interactive whiteboards being placed in all classrooms, teachers receiving new computers and students having access to Chromebooks in the classroom.
“We really got creative and moved money around … so we could make those moves,” he said. “We all pulled together and said, ‘Hey, what can we do? We’ve got to move forward with technology,’ and we found ways to do that. That was very rewarding.”
Throughout the years, Rochner has worked with six different superintendents and 24 school board members.
Each of the superintendents came from different backgrounds and had different qualities, but Rochner said he developed a good working relationship with all of them.
“Overall, it was pretty much still the same requirements of the job, but there are always some differences of what their emphasis may be on and where they want you to maybe put more effort than you did before,” he said. “You just have to adjust to that. Whatever’s important to that person, I tried to do that for them.”
The business manager and superintendent report to the seven-member school board.
“We’ve had great school boards through the years,” Rochner said. “They put a lot of trust in the superintendent and myself and the rest of our staff in what we’re doing. In the same token, they are not afraid to ask questions if they don’t understand because they are ultimately responsible for the running of the corporation.”
Since 1996, Rochner also has done radio broadcasting of Brownstown Central High School football and basketball games.
For his dedication to athletics, Rochner was inducted into the Brownstown Central High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013.
When he retires, Rochner said he hopes to continue with broadcasting, but he may cut back on it some so he can spend time with his family.
“I do still enjoy it, but my grandkids are getting a little older, they are getting more involved in sports and stuff, so I’ll just have to sort of see,” he said. “I could still see myself doing a few games yet for a while.”
Rochner said he also hopes to spend more time with his interest in autographed sports and Hollywood memorabilia, and he wants to do some traveling with his wife, Debbie, who retired a year-and-a-half ago from Jackson County REMC.
Since Rochner, his wife and their three children all went to Brownstown schools and he has worked there for 25-plus years, he said leaving will be bittersweet.
“The closer you get to that point, the more you realize how much you’re going to miss the people,” he said. “It’s like a family here, and we’ve got such good staff. The teachers, the support staff, the bus drivers, the cleaning people, most of them are all Brownstown people. They are local people, and they are good people. And we have good students here.
“Coaching in the past, broadcasting and going to meetings as business manager, you get a chance to see other places, and you really understand how fortunate you are to have what we have here in Brownstown,” he said. “You talk about Brownstown when you go away, they know it by athletics, they know it by success in education, whether it be A schools or Four Star school. The reputation is very good.”
Rochner said he knows a few people who plan on applying for his job. Whoever winds up earning it, he said he looks forward to training them.
“You deal with so many people here, the people skills, I think, are very important,” he said. “Although you’re looking at the background — financially and management and those type of things — they’ve got to fit. I think that’s very important, and I hope they find a good fit that will work well with the whole staff here. I’m sure they will.”
Name: Harry Rochner
Education: Brownstown Central High School (1972); Hanover College (1976)
Occupation: Business manager for Brownstown Central Community School Corp. (1991-present)
Family: Wife, Debbie Rochner; children, Matt (Lindsey) Rochner, Heidi (Andrew) Thayer and Lindsi (Wil) Andersen; six grandchildren with one on the way; brother, Charles Rochner; and sisters, Shirley Brewer and the late JoElla Nierman