San Antonio Independent School District Superintendent Pedro Martinez is leaving the district to become CEO of Chicago Public Schools, the third largest U.S. public school system.
His appointment was scheduled to be announced Wednesday morning at Chicago’s Benito Juarez High School, where he was once a student.
Martinez told the San Antonio Report he plans to start his new job at the end of the month, returning to the city where he grew up and the school system where he began his education career.
“I will always love San Antonio,” Martinez said Tuesday. “I will always love the community because it was a community that embraced me from day one, and the only district that would even have an opportunity to take me away is my hometown of Chicago.”
Last month, Martinez emerged from a pool of 25 applicants as one of four finalists for the Chicago CEO position. He served as the school system’s chief financial officer from 2003 to 2009, managing a $5 million budget. Arne Duncan, then the head of Chicago’s public schools and later the U.S. Secretary of Education, recruited Martinez to join a team working to turn around the school system.
Now, Martinez will lead the district of roughly 340,000 students through the next phase of the coronavirus pandemic, but the 51-year-old said that he is ready for the challenge. While he is familiar with the school system, Martinez is prepared to listen and learn about the changes Chicago’s public schools have endured in the past decade, such as declining enrollment.
In SAISD, Martinez faced similar challenges, including generational poverty and declining enrollment that led to a $31 million budget shortfall in 2018. He acknowledged that there is still work to be done, but Martinez said he believes he is leaving the school district in a strong position, from the school board to the staff at each campus. At every level, the culture has shifted to prioritize…