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District Administration


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Chris Knutsen

Chris Knutsen has been an English teacher, coach, and administrator for 32 years. He became Superintendent of Florence Unified in April of 2017. He was previously Assistant Superintendent for FUSD from 2013-2017. Prior to that, he was Principal at Florence High School for five years. He has spent time in the Apache Junction School District, Chandler Unified School District, and Tempe Union High School District, prior to working for Florence Unified School District the past 10 years. Mr. Knutsen received his Bachelor’s Degree from Iowa State University, with an emphasis in secondary English. He received his Master’s Degree from Northern Arizona University in Educational Leadership. He and his wife, Angie, have three children; Kylene, Haley, and Jayce.   

Assistant Superintendent

Denice Erickson

Denice Erickson earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from California State University in Sacramento, California. While at CSUS she studied International Business and Finance and minored in Spanish. After college, she returned to Arizona in 2002 due to a unique teaching opportunity that presented itself with her former high school Spanish teacher.
Though she never planned to enter the education field, she discovered a passion for education and teaching and has been in education ever since. Denice earned a Master’s of Education from the University of Phoenix in 2003, and a Master’s of Educational Administration from Grand Canyon University in 2014. She taught Spanish for six years in the Apache Junction Unified School District, and  has served in the Florence Unified School District over the last 13 years in various capacities, both high school and K-8 levels.  Her roles included teacher, instructional coach, assistant principal, principal, and Chief Financial Officer.
In her free moments, Denice enjoys hiking and spending time with her husband and two children. It is her kids who have helped her to maintain perspective over the years when it comes to the diverse learning needs of students. Taylor, 25, and Dylan, 18, have inspired her to continually work to make sure that ALL students obtain the education they need and deserve in order to reach their full potential. We should give all learners the same sense of urgency and compassion that we afford our own children.

Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources

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Thad Gates

As the Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services, Mr. Gates provides leadership to the Human Resources Department, Support Services, Community Education, and the district's K-12 athletic programs. Mr. Gates has served the Florence District since 2013, when he was named as the Principal of Florence High School. In 2017, he was promoted to a district level director position in charge of a variety of departments, including Federal Programs, Exceptional Student Services and Human Resources until he was selected to be the Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services in 2023. When he is not working, he enjoys spending time with his family and staying active by getting outdoors, playing the guitar, and traveling to the mountains and the beach.