When Cindy Marten formally had her contract approved Tuesday as schools chief in San Diego, it included a promise to a student.
Marten’s contract as superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District calls for her to receive a base salary of $255,000 in her first year—of which she pledged to use $5,000 for a scholarship to be awarded to a student planning a career in education.
The San Diego Unified school board unanimously approved Marten’s four-year contract Tuesday night.
Teachers union leader Bill Freeman, president of the San Diego Education Association, said he was pleased an educator was appointed superintendent.
“She’s been very supportive of the teachers and the kids, and it’s a big jump going from principal to superintendent of the second-largest district
in the state,” Freeman said of Marten, who once worked at Los Peñasquitos Elementary School in San Diego.
Her work year will be reduced by five days during the 2013-14 academic year, with a corresponding salary decrease on par with other members of district senior management staff.
Marten will be paid $261,667 in the 2014-15 academic year, $267,334 in the 2015-2016 academic year, and $275,000 in the 2016-2017 academic year.
She will also receive an automobile expense allowance for travel within the district.
Outgoing Superintendent Bill Kowba’s annual base salary was $250,000 and included the same annual automobile allowance.
Marten will begin serving as superintendent designate and working alongside Kowba on April 1, and will become superintendent July 1.
Before assuming her post, Marten said she will meet with district staff, parents and students to identify their specific challenges.
The board chose Marten, the principal of Central Elementary School, on Feb. 27—one day after Kowba announced he would retire when his three-year
contract ends June 30.
Board President John Lee Evans said the board’s nontraditional appointment of an educator was because the district would have a stronger instructional focus as finances gradually improved.
“It’s an honor, but mostly it’s about my ability to continue to work and serve children,” Marten said. “Whether I’m a classroom teacher or a bus driver or a nurse or a counselor or a principal or a vice principal or the superintendent, the work is still the same.”
Evans said the quick move to pick Marten was because board members had reached a consensus, it would allow for a longer transition period and because
they believed in the district team set up during the past few years.
Despite running a campus that qualified for funding based on its percentage of students from low-income families, and where 85 percent of students were learning English, Marten exemplified the district’s goals for building high quality schools, Evans said.
During her tenure at the City Heights school, students’ academic performance scores rose by more than 150 points, and she established a campus health center and an employee daycare center.
Trustee Scott Barnett said Central Elementary School had been “ground zero for education reform,” and Marten had a “backbone of steel” that she would use making recommendations to the board on what would be best for students.
“If anyone, any group, any organization tries to obstruct that, I believe she will become a mother bear to the 120,000-plus students in this district and fight,” Barnett said.
—City News Service contributed to this report.