Published Friday, June 22, 2012 | 12:01 p.m.
Updated Friday, June 22, 2012 | 12:47 p.m.
Clark County Schools Deputy Superintendent Pedro Martinez has been tapped as a superintendent finalist for the School District of Philadelphia.
Martinez, who just finished his first school year in Clark County, is the first superintendent finalist named by a search committee on Friday. A second candidate has been identified, but not announced. The search committee reviewed more than 100 applicants for the position, currently held by acting superintendent Thomas Knudsen.
The news comes just two days after the Washoe County School Board announced Martinez as one of its five superintendent finalists.
"I feel very blessed," Martinez said, adding his latest nomination came as a surprise. "I'm flattered and honored to be in this kind of position."
As deputy superintendent of instruction for the fifth-largest school district in the country, Martinez, 42, oversaw classroom instruction and was a key member of Clark County Schools Superintendent Dwight Jones’ “reform”-minded cabinet this year.
Martinez came to Las Vegas from Washoe County, where he served a similar deputy superintendent role. Although Martinez was never a schoolteacher or principal, he has been credited with helping to raise high school graduation rates in Washoe and Clark counties.
Martinez helped bring Washoe County's version of "Reclaim Your Future" to Clark County, where community and school volunteers visited the homes of hundreds of dropouts to encourage them to return to school. Martinez also was instrumental in bringing about a bevy of changes to the School District, including a new school-ranking system, organizational model and graduation initiative.
Martinez received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and his master’s degree from DePaul University in Illinois. Martinez was formerly chief financial officer of Chicago Public Schools, the third-largest school district in the country.
The School District of Philadelphia is the eighth-largest school district in the country with more than 165,000 students in 291 schools. In August, the district ousted its embattled superintendent, Arlene Ackerman, capping a turbulent tenure beset by criticism from the school board, teachers union and community members.
The Philadelphia district is currently under state care after suffering perpetual budget deficits. Its most recent budget shortfall – a colossal $664 million gap – resulted in thousands of pink slips.
Washoe County School District is the second-largest school district in the state with more than 60,000 students enrolled in 93 schools. Its former superintendent, Heath Morrison, who was named the 2012 National Superintendent of the Year, stepped down this year after being named superintendent of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina in April.
Martinez said he would weigh any offers carefully before making a decision. He added he would miss Las Vegas if he were chosen and decided to take either superintendent position.
"I love this community," Martinez said of Las Vegas. "I really believe that our community in Southern Nevada deserves a better education system."
In the event Martinez is chosen as either the superintendent of Philadelphia or Washoe County schools, the Clark County School District would immediately launch a search for a new deputy superintendent, officials said.