Fresno Unified administrator Steve Martinez takes Sacramento-area job

The Sacramento BeeMay 8, 2013 

A Sacramento-area school district picked Steve Martinez, an assistant superintendent at Fresno Unified School District, as its next superintendent.

The Twin Rivers Unified school board voted Monday to approve the hire, pending contract negotiations, at a special board meeting in Fresno, according to district officials contacted by The Sacramento Bee. The board is expected to finalize the hire at its meeting Thursday night in North Highlands.

The 31,000-student Twin Rivers district has 44 schools, including four primary high schools -- Foothill, Grant Union, Highland and Rio Linda.

Martinez has been Fresno Unified's assistant superintendent for school leadership since 2009. In his 12 years of education, he was principal at Clovis East High, an assistant principal, coach and science and math teacher, according to his résumé. He has a doctorate in educational leadership from Fresno State.

"He met all the qualifications our community wanted, including K-12 experience," said Twin Rivers board member Michael Baker. "The (Fresno) district has a good reputation for turning assistant superintendents into good superintendents. He is all about children and what is best for the children."

Twin Rivers' superintendent search began after former Superintendent Frank Porter retired in June amid controversy that included an investigation into the district's police department. The agency faced allegations of towing cars to raise money and excessive force.

Board members contacted by The Sacramento Bee praised Martinez for his leadership qualities and as someone who was an early favorite in the search to replace Porter.

In a letter to the firm hired to conduct the superintendent search, Martinez wrote, "I set a goal to become a superintendent because I have a passion for the success of all students." He did not return a call for an interview.

Martinez, who made about $128,000 with Fresno Unified, is likely to make more at Twin Rivers. Sacramento-area superintendent salaries hover around $200,000. His salary is still being negotiated and has yet to be announced.

District officials held four community forums to gather information about the leadership skills residents in the district wanted in a superintendent. They appointed a community committee to review applications.

Community members said they wanted a superintendent from outside the school district to avoid favoritism. The district has struggled with infighting since it formed from four districts in 2007.

The board interviewed six candidates last week before narrowing the field to two. Five board members traveled to Fresno to interview Martinez's references. The board members interviewed about 27 people -- board members, site principals, parents, teachers, administrators and Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson, Twin Rivers board member Rebecca Sandoval said.

The Fresno Bee contributed to this report. The reporter can be reached at (916) 321-1090 or dlambert@sacbee.com.

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