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SAISD Beginning School Year With New Superintendent Ready To Tackle Challenges

Thousands of San Antonio area kids will be going back to school Monday morning. It won't be Pedro Martinez' first day though, when kids return from summer vacation.

Martinez started his job in June, meeting with 300 new teachers the district hired this year and by meeting last year's graduates.

And he devised a five-year plan for district-wide improvement.

I spoke with Martinez last week as he headed into his introductory meeting with the district's school counselors. He said the energy is palpable, he said everyone who works with school children is as excited as the kids to return to school. And the key, he said, is to keep that momentum going.

Martinez’ job begins and ends with an overwhelming poverty rate. According to the district’s calculations, 93 percent of SAISD students are economically disadvantaged.

It’s a challenge that Martinez considers an opportunity.

“This is the struggle for everyone. Whether it’s a district of 50,000 children or 400,000 children such as in Chicago where I worked, this is the struggle. How do you help close the achievement gaps? How do you help families in poverty become successful?

Martinez comes to San Antonio from the Nevada Dept. of Education in Reno, where he advised the governor and the State Superintendent of Instruction on education policy.

He wants to use his experience working with first generation students to help them achieve college education.