The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

June 26, 2013

Portage superintendent stepping down in 2014

Justin Dennis

PORTAGE — It’s been a decades-long education career for Portage Area Superintendent Richard Bernazzoli. Now, the longtime administrator will be hanging up his hat in the district where it all began.

He formally announced his plans to retire at a June 12 meeting of the school board. Bernazzoli’s position vacates June 30, 2014.

Business Manager Mike Kunko said he’d produce a violin to play while Bernazzoli remarked about his upcoming “vacation,” but the two were simply sharing mirth. Bernazzoli’s plans after stepping down at Portage are simplistic.

“Relax. Drive a boat. Become a sailor,” he laughed.

Kunko, who spends his board meeting nights in the chair next to the superintendent, said he’d been with Bernazzoli for most of his academic career – starting out as a student.

“I was always proud of the work I did in the classroom as a teacher, first and foremost,” said Bernazzoli, who taught natural and physical science classes – biology, chemistry and physics – for 19 1/2 years.

He took an eight-year hiatus from Portage Area schools when he went to the Forest Hills district, but ended up spending the last 30 1/2 years as a Portage administrator. In that time, he said he was proud of strides made to renovate the football stadium and wellness center, turning them into “beautiful facilities.”

The district is still looking to repair the high school’s roof – possibly the elementary school’s as well – and Bernazzoli said he regrets he might not get to see that work finished. But he said he still found much fulfillment during his career at Portage Area.

“(I’m) very proud to be part of this district. It’s always good to start and end your career where you began,” he said. “They were just great people, a great district – I was proud to serve it. I just hope I did them as good a service as they did me.”

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