New USD 204 business manager happy to return to small town
Eric Hansen, the new business and human resources manager for USD 204, says he is looking forward to being back in a small community school district.
For 18 years, Hansen helped manage the growing Gardner-Edergton district, which is now has about twice the number of students and employees and double the annual budget of the Bonner Springs-Edwardsville. He said he would appreciate getting to know everyone in his new district.
“Where Gardner was at when I started in 1994, you had the opportunity to know everyone and learn names and faces. Then you start to get to be so large that you lose track of who everyone is,” he said. “There’s some give and take — there’s always new challenges on the road — but at the same time you lose that comfort level of just knowing people. So that will be something I’m looking forward to here.”
Hansen took over in July for former business manager, Charles Thomas, who will work part time until fully retiring later this year.
Hansen, who was born in Omaha and grew up in various locations around the Midwest, attended John Brown University in Arkansas, where he majored in business administration and accounting. He moved to the area in 1990 when he got a job with the pharmaceutical company Marion Merrell Dow. Four years later, when that firm was undergoing some changes, he got a job in the Gardner-Edgerton school district.
Although Hansen hadn’t expected to work for a school district, he found it was a good fit.
“It’s been a pretty interesting experience,” he said. “I’m learning a lot of things that you don’t learn in college. When you do this job, you’ve gotta kind of be a Jack of all trades. It’s amazing how many things you’re exposed to. ... You have the opportunity to interact with a lot of good people. That’s probably what keeps me coming back.”
Another benefit of the move was that Hansen met his wife, who came into the district at the same time as a computer and business teacher.
But after 18 years in Gardner-Edgerton, Hansen said it was time for a change, and he liked the range of responsibilities the Bonner position offers.
“One of the things that was intriguing to me about the job was not only for business, but for human resources,” he said. “I’d been spending a pretty fair portion of my time in Gardner doing some human resources-related activities, so I thought I could come up here and expand on that.”
Hansen has been able to work with Thomas in his first several weeks on the job to familiarize himself with the district’s organizational structure. He said while the district isn’t in bad shape right now, he sees a few areas of possible improvement.
“Hopefully some of the experiences I’ve had in the last 18 years will help me move things in the right direction,” he said.