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Granite picks Martin Bates for superintendent post

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SALT LAKE CITY — Granite School District has named its new superintendent.

Effective Sept. 1, Martin Bates will replace current superintendent Stephen Ronnenkamp, who announced his retirement earlier this year, the district's board of education announced Thursday.

Bates has served in administrative capacities at Granite since 1997 and has been an assistant superintendent since 1999. He said he believes Granite — the largest district in the state — is moving in the right direction, and he plans to maintain that.

"We're on a great trajectory," Bates said.

The board held a nationwide job search, said board President Sarah Meier, and is "tremendously confident" that Bates is the right person for the job. Bates' background in the Utah education system is particularly beneficial and will make for a smooth transition, Meier said.

"I think we have selected someone who really does understand the uniqueness of Utah," she said.

Bates will be the 16th superintendent in the district's 106-year history. He has a bachelor's degree in special education, a doctorate of philosophy in educational leadership and a law degree — all from BYU. Prior to his recent appointment, Bates dealt with legal services for the district.

He said his educational focus going forward will be on tailoring education to the unique learning abilities of students rather than relying strictly on standardized methods.

"I think we have done a great job over the years of standardizing education," Bates said. "(Now) we need to reverse that. We need to individualize the opportunities children have."

Utah's changing demographics pose challenges to all administrators, he said.

"Our profession is facing things we've never faced before," Bates said. "Our state is changing."

But Bates said he's confident the district's teachers and students will continue to rise to the challenge.

"We fully intend and expect to be at the forefront of education innovation in our state," he said.

Bates and the school board will hold town hall meetings in September in addition to school tours to reach out to students, parents and employees in the district's 89 schools.

e-mail: mfarmer@desnews.com