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December 6, 2012

School superintendent takes top place in state for role

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Natalie Lakosil
Staff Writer


Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Ronda Frueauff, Fort Huachuca Accommodation School District, or FHAS, won the All Arizona Superintendent Award for the medium-size school district this year.

Frueauff will receive the award on Dec.13 in Phoenix. She was nominated for the award by her peers, Tom Quinn, FHAS school board president, Bonnie Austin, assistant superintendent, and her nomination was supported by other school board members. 

“I think what is important is the board nominated me for the award,” said Frueauff. The prestigious award is quite an accomplishment for Frueaff who has worked in school administration for the past 28 years.

“Well of course I am thrilled because at this point in my career I am leaving here and moving on, so it is a good way to finish a really good time here,” she said. Frueauff, who has held the superintendent position on Fort Huachuca for the last eight years, is slated to retire in June 2013 but says retiring is unlikely.

“I am just really pleased that the board was confident enough to make the nomination. My colleagues selected me for this; it is a peer-selected process, which then makes you feel better too — that makes it a good award,” she added.

The award won was in the medium-sized school district category, which means Frueauff is responsible for 1,001 to 5,000 students. She currently oversees 1,051. Requirements for the award included a nominated individual must have been an Arizona superintendent for at least three years prior to this year; has not received this award during the preceding five years; and is an active member of Arizona School administrators, all of which she met.

On the application nomination form it states the administrator must demonstrate outstanding relations with the board, public and community; leadership in curriculum and instruction and management of student activities; short-and long-term planning; personnel, business and financial management; and personal and professional qualities.

Frueauff has demonstrated these qualities day in and out while working on Fort Huachuca. She helped to establish a governing school board in 2008. The school system was previously governed by the county superintendent of schools, which is why it is an accommodation school.

When the installation reopened in the 1950s after closing for a few years, the only place they could put this school district was under the county superintendent and call it an accommodation school district, Frueaff said.

The board was created through legislation. “We created a budget bill that allowed us to utilize our federal money for operations, because under the state there was a restriction on using your federal impact aid on operations. You could only use it for capital which meant building new schools and whatever, and we knew that we had accrued enough money to build our new schools so we wanted to be able to use it for other things. That bill was passed in 2007, and the board came into existence in 2008,” she said.

Another major change the installation has seen since Frueauff took on her role as superintendent is the building of three schools, the most recent one being Colonel Smith Middle School, which is the Arizona’s first net-zero school which generates all if not more than the energy resources it uses.

She was instrumental in drafting and receiving a $1.2 million grant from the Department of Defense as well as currently applying for a $500,000 grant from the Arizona Science Foundation.

“So what I have seen is a lot of changes. We’ve come a long way in eight years. A lot of it is more about building the capacity within the school and within the community to keep the momentum going in a school. Because a challenge for school systems is leadership changes, you lose momentum, and once you’ve developed a process for keeping everybody engaged on the quality of education then you can build the capacity of your people, your teachers and everybody becomes a leader at a certain level and they can be responsible. It is not about a person staying in a district or leaving a district,” Frueauff said.

Her philosophy on education is, “I think education is an individual pursuit of knowledge through many channels and I believe K through 12 education has to be an environment where students are exploring and discovering their learning as well as looking at their skill development for potential career or an opportunity to go on to college.”




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