Saturday, February 22, 2020
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Urgent needs felt by new supt. in Howard Co.

Howard County Public Schools, about halfway between Baltimore and Washington, has a new (acting) superintendent in Michael Martirano, brought on after an embittered end came to the all but hostile environment under Renee Foose, Len Lazarick writes in the Maryland Reporter.

Martirano (from a Howard County Public School video on Facebook)

The superintendent has the highest-paid job in the county not only because it’s the toughest job, Mr Lazarick writes, but also because taxpayers spend more money on schools than on any other county institution, as they touch more people’s lives than just about anything else.

Officially, Mr Martirano was hired as the interim superintendent, but he seems to want the job on a more permanent basis.

“I’m still building bridges,” he said in an interview with two Business Monthly writers last month. “I think we’ll be able to heal the organization quickly. I’m operating from a very high level of urgency.”

When it comes to building bridges, part of that is work in the community. But he’s also going to have to build bridges with the board, who recently had to buy out Ms Foose’s contract for $1.6 million as she had sued the very board she worked for. “Ding, dong, the wicked witch is dead. But then what?” Mr Lazarick wrote. Here’s what:

I have issued a strategic call to action to guide our work: “Learning and Leading with Equity: The Fierce Urgency of Now.” This vision draws on the inspiring words of the Rev Martin Luther King Jr to build an instructional ecosystem that enables each student to reach their greatest potential, regardless of ZIP code, gender, race, family structure, economic situation, or any other factor. (Mr Martirano in the Baltimore Sun)

Mr Martirano was a principal at Laurel High School before he came to the central office as the supervisor of elementary schools. Then he became superintendent in St Mary’s County and then superintendent for the entire state of West Virginia.

But he’s a longtime Howard County resident. “My return to Howard County is like a dream come true,” he was quoted as saying after he got the job. “I always wanted to be the superintendent of Howard County, but the timing just never worked itself out.”

So now it has. One order of business: balance the enrollment at the district’s schools. Most of them are either crowded or underutilized. But that will take some time.

More immediately, he plans to restore para-educators to the media centers in every school. They had been whittled down under the previous leadership, who were unable to find the money to keep them during a time of constantly dwindling budgets.

Howard County Public Schools serves a little more than 55,000 students, and has published overall attendance rates just over 95 percent at all three levels: elementary, middle, and high. Almost two thirds of the district’s teachers hold an Advanced Professional Certificate from the state of Maryland.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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