My evaluation of Superintendent Pedro Martinez

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Jun 11, 2013 2 Comments ›› DaveAiazzi

Superintendent Pedro Martinez

Pedro Martinez took a great risk coming to the Washoe County School District in August of 2012. A professional risk because, let’s face it, who would want to follow “The Superintendent of the Year”? He also must have known that there were systems put in place that the Board of Trustees wanted him to continue. This seemed not to be a job for a young professional man who wants to make his own mark upon his profession. From the outside (which I was) it appeared the person that would take on this job would be someone close to retirement and wanting to “ride out the time” and try to accumulate another pension. This is obviously not the case with Pedro.

A personal risk because he had to move his family (yet again). I have no idea how many times this man has uprooted his family. I see a certain amount of bravery in that.

So now, only about ten months into his tenure we are required to give him a “review”. At first I thought it wasn’t quite fair to have a review after such a short time in. I have come to realize that there ARE things that he has accomplished, and things he still needs to work on, so that a review could be helpful to all involved. 

So, on with MY review of Pedro Martinez;

1. I was impressed at the outset that he is able to tell the Trustees what he feels he CANNOT accomplish given the current staffing levels and funding. My best case on point is the “Envision WCSD 2015 – Investing in Our Future.” By creating his “Action Plan” Pedro told us what he felt the District should be concentrating on. Not leaving initiatives in the Envision Plan behind, but focusing on what he felt this District should put more effort toward.

2. Putting the “School Performance Framework” in place in such a short time is another impressive achievement in my opinion. I realize there is, was and always will be some consternation about this Framework but it provides the Trustees a basis on which to determine whether each of the many programs the School District is implementing are actually achieving the results anticipated. I understand that the actual rankings did not come about because of the current Superintendent. Because this is a review, I don’t feel he can legitimately be given credit for the 5 star schools nor blame for the 1 star school but I give him all the credit for the actual Framework. Incidentally, since the State recently came out with their rankings, I am gratified that our ranking system is more rigid than the State’s.

3. From what I have been told, Mr. Martinez has been very active in the community reaching out to community groups and organizations.

4. I have only received a few communications from employees about Mr. Martinez so I must assume that his work with the largest work force in Washoe County is going as smooth as can be expected.

5. That being said, I am buoyed by the fact that Pedro seems willing to take on dramatic change. The instance I am referring to directly is the transferring of so many principals in one year. I must believe that it is unprecedented in Nevada for such a bold move. I have been hearing for quite a while that there needs to be a change in the School District. I ran on that very platform so I am pleased we have a Superintendent that is willing to make change. Now, whether or not this change will actually work will be the subject of next year’s evaluation, not this year. This year I give him good marks for the attempt.

6. Regarding AB46 the Trustees put this bill forward before I took office so I am unsure as to whose project this actually is. There is so much support from legislators and community members, all of whom testified, that I don’t believe I can give the credit to Pedro for AB46 coming out of the legislature. In my opinion, this is the area our Superintendent could benefit from more guidance, Nevada politics. At the time of this writing, the Governor is expected to sign AB46 into law in ten minutes but it is not the law Pedro told me would come out. It’s pretty much the way I thought it would come out, but in January Pedro was fairly confident the legislature would enact the taxes and the Governor would sign them into law. I feel that at times his confidence put this bill in jeopardy by not wanting to compromise. In the last month of the session I saw him recognize that and felt he was more willing to listen to alternative points of view that people of more political experience were giving him.

7. In keeping with the “political” theme I was going to comment here on his interaction with the Trustees. That would presume I speak for the Trustees, which I do not, so I will write of his interactions with me. I am not unknown in this community and my style of leadership is not unknown. I ask a lot of questions until I fully understand the answers and feel I could explain them to a person on the street. It has been difficult at times getting information from the District in a timely manner. I am happy to report it seems to be getting better.

a. We had to really press on Pedro for more accountability in the initiatives he was bringing forward. Specifically a budget for each initiative and a goal at the end so Trustees could evaluate them later as to their viability. Both of these were ultimately completed but it shouldn’t have been so hard.

b. There has been similar push-back over contracts coming to the Trustees. When there is currently a Policy saying that every contract over $100,000 would go to the        Board of Trustees.

c. Pedro has to understand that Reno is a small town. When he speaks about the Trustees to individuals or groups, good or ill, it gets back to us fairly quickly.
8. I fully understand that this is a different Board than the one that hired Mr. Martinez. I believe we are asking for more than perhaps previous Trustees have. Pedro should understand that public bodies change every two years. Sometimes radically, sometimes not but it shouldn’t surprise a person at Pedro’s level. I don’t know if people have been telling the Superintendent or he just felt it but my take on the situation is that he has felt that I was “out to get him” and that this review date is the date he would be fired. Nothing is further from the truth.

It is my sincere hope that today will be yet another beginning for The Trustees and Pedro. With that we are beginning next year’s budget as early as next month so we can hopefully avoid the tension over this year’s budget. I believe we are getting more comfortable with each other and knowing where that “line” is between policy and practice (yes, the Trustees DO get to have a say in the budget, no, we DON’T get to decide which principal goes to which school). There will most likely be MORE on the agendas and the District will do more to be visible in the community and accountable to the community.

I would like to say that this is the ONLY part of the Open Meeting Law I disagree with. Forcing us to do evaluations in public tends to dissuade us from being as frank as we may need to be with any Superintendent. I find that more than not they are “glowing” with little if any constructive criticism.

With that being said, I hope that what I have said here is considered just that, constructive criticism. It should be noted that everything I have said here I have already said to Pedro, in person. I have a great sense of admiration for Pedro as I have stated. There are areas for us both to work on and I have seen much progress in the last month.
With MY “Framework”, I give Pedro Martinez


Comments

  1. Suzanne Fitzpatrick says:

    Mr. Aiazzi,

    From what you mentioned you are very much aware of the Open Meeting law. Why then did you not follow the law.

    I am a parent of a seventh grader, last year during the sixth grade her class had 33 students, the teacher did a good job trying to teach, but I can say that there was hardly any personal attention to my child due to the fact that there were so many kids. I do not think she got the best education a child should get in sixth grade.

    I received a text message minutes after your decision to fire Mr. Pedro Martinez, for a moment I thought that there had been criminal activity by Mr. Martinez that demanded his immediate and humiliating dismissal.

    After learning more about the circumstances it is clear that the Board just wanted to “show” that they could fire him.

    Now, just as the new school year is starting we are without a Superintendent and what you and your cronies have done is open the door for lawsuits that will cost millions to the School District. Where is your sense of responsibility? Did you think about the consequences of your actions? Where is the money to pay for the lawsuit going to come from? Meantime teachers will continue to struggle with 30 plus kids in school, and probably things will get much worse for our schools. I believe all the members of the school board should resign and then we can start new without the bias attitude shown by the current board.

  2. DaveAiazzi says:

    Thank you Ms. Fitzpatrick for taking the time to comment. Because of the lawsuit and because of the investigation, I cannot comment specifically on what happened.
    I CAN comment generally. First I have to emphasize again that Superintendent Martinez is not, nor has he ever been, fired by the Washoe Count School Board.
    While you may have heard on the news and on the internet “about the circumstances”, the Board has not made comments other than to clarify the situation.
    This school year will proceed fine with or without the Superintendent. This District is not built around one person, be it a Superintendent or a Board Member. The educators and personnel who work for the District are professionals and they will continue do do their job.
    I WILL tell you that the Board comprises of seven members who combined have served over 50 years in elected, public service and over 100 years of direct educational experience. We have PhDs and college professors. There is no lack of experience, both practical and studied, on this Board. Each of us has chosen to make Washoe County our home.
    I will ask you to show a little patience while this issue continues on.

    Thank you
    -dave aiazzi

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