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Washoe County hires CCSD deputy as new superintendent


Paul Takahashi

Clark County Schools Deputy Superintendent of Instruction Pedro Martinez answers questions about reforms to the struggling Prime Six schools in the historically disadvantaged neighborhood of West Las Vegas during a community input session on Tuesday, July 19. 2011.

Updated Friday, June 29, 2012 | 11:51 a.m.

Clark County Deputy Superintendent Pedro Martinez has accepted the position of superintendent of the Washoe County School District, officials confirmed Friday.

After three public town-hall meetings this week, Washoe County school board members voted this morning to name Martinez, pending negotiations, as the replacement for Heath Morrison, who was recently named superintendent of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina. The Washoe County School District is the second-largest district in Nevada, serving more than 62,000 students enrolled in 102 schools.

"The opportunity to become superintendent of Washoe County School District is a great honor," Martinez said in a prepared statement. "My ties to education in Northern Nevada are strong, and I look forward to working with this dynamic team of professionals to further the education of every child in Washoe County."

Washoe's school board president Ken Grein said he was excited to welcome Martinez back to the Reno-based school district. Other board members praised Martinez's leadership experience in district management and his history and knowledge of Washoe County. Martinez was one of five finalists for the Washoe superintendent post.

"We are thrilled to welcome him, and we know our successes will continue as he assumes this critical role," Grein said in a prepared statement.

Clark County Schools Superintendent Dwight Jones – who hired Martinez last summer – congratulated Martinez on his selection as Washoe County's next superintendent. Jones thanked Martinez for his work in Clark County this year, which Jones credits for helping to raise test scores and graduation rates.

"The Clark County School District has been fortunate to have Mr. Martinez this school year to direct our efforts to raise the academic bar for all students," Jones said in a prepared statement. "We are pleased to see encouraging signs of improvement in schools throughout Clark County."

Martinez was also one of two finalists for the superintendent's post in Philadelphia, the nation's eight-largest school district. The School District of Philadelphia's decision of its next superintendent is expected by the end of this week.

Jones said he and Martinez shared a similar vision for education in Nevada, which would make for a stronger relationship between the northern and southern school districts. Together, those districts serve nearly 90 percent of Nevada's K-12 students. That alliance is likely to pave the way for more education reforms during the 2013 Legislative session.

"Former Washoe County Superintendent Heath Morrison and I had an excellent relationship working together to improve education for all of Nevada's children. I look forward to a similar partnership with Mr. Martinez," Jones said in the statement. "Working together, we can raise the academic bar and increase the number of high school graduates throughout the state."

As deputy superintendent of instruction in Clark County, Martinez, 42, oversaw classroom instruction and was a key member of Jones’ reform-minded cabinet this year.

About a year ago, 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 and Morrison are both graduates of The Broad Superintendents Academy, which advocates for a corporate mindset in education. Morrison, who was named the 2012 Superintendent of the Year, brought Martinez to Washoe County.

Martinez was previously the regional superintendent and the chief financial officer for the Chicago Public Schools – the nation's third-largest district serving 409,000 students – under the current U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Martinez, who was born in Mexico but grew up in Chicago, comes from a finance background. He earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MBA from Chicago's DePaul University.

Jones said the School District would launch a search for a new deputy superintendent. A process and schedule has not been determined yet.

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