Granite School District superintendent steps down

Education » Stephen Ronnenkamp calls it a day after 14 years on the job
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Utah's largest school district is replacing its top official.

On Wednesday, Granite School District Superintendent Stephen Ronnenkamp announced he is retiring Aug. 1 after 39 years in public education.

Although the Board of Education renewed his contract for another two years, Ronnenkamp, 64, said he's ready to retire after 14 years at Granite's helm.

"You kind of know when that time comes," he said. "I accomplished most of the things I needed to."

Ronnenkamp, named "Utah Superintendent of the Year" in 2003, championed a $256 million bond, approved by voters last fall. The money will pay for air conditioning in every Granite school, build three new schools on the Salt Lake Valley district's west side, and rebuild five aging schools, including Olympus and Granger high schools. The bond did not require a tax increase.

Board president Sarah Meier praised Ronnenkamp's skills as a "team builder" who united administrators, teachers and parents.

"He put us all on the same team," working for the district's children, she said. "I was very much hoping he would stay with us for even longer than two [more] years."

Meier said the board will look for qualified candidates to replace Ronnenkamp throughout Utah and nationally.

Before coming to Granite, Ronnenkamp worked for Davis School District for 25 years as a high school English teacher, a junior high and high school principal and assistant superintendent.

"I learned that the most important position in the system is a teacher," Ronnenkamp said. "Teaching is a calling. ... I don't know of any work that's more sacred and more noble than being entrusted with children."

Even as an administrator, Ronnenkamp taught evening and summer education classes as an adjunct professor for Utah State University for 25 years.

Linda Hansen, PTA director for the Granite area, said the superintendent "will be missed" by parents.

As a mother of two children with autism, Hansen said she appreciated Ronnenkamp's efforts to reach out to parents in special education. Together, they created a support group for those parents.

"He took ideas and transformed them [into action]," Hansen said. "He's just very kind and considerate -- always."

Ronnenkamp said he plans to spend more time with his 17 grandchildren (three more are expected soon). He and his wife, Janis, also hope to serve a mission for the Mormon Church.