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Board Selects Martirano for Permanent Superintendent Position

December 19th, 2017

The Howard County Board of Education announced its decision to select Interim Superintendent Michael J. Martirano as permanent superintendent for the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) during the regularly scheduled Board meeting on Tuesday, December 19, 2017. Following the announcement, Board Chairman Cynthia Vaillancourt and Martirano signed a letter of intent to begin the negotiation process leading to a contract that will extend from July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2022. Martirano’s contract as interim superintendent expires June 30, 2018.

In May, the Board appointed Martirano as interim superintendent for a one-year term extending through June 30, 2018. It began in August the process of selecting a permanent superintendent, and solicited stakeholder input via an online survey, community forums, public hearings, and conversations with county and community leaders. The majority of the community feedback, including a large majority of the 2,200 survey responses, expressed a preference for retaining Martirano, with the remainder identifying integrity, strong communication skills, and a focus on the whole child as the most desirable characteristics for a new superintendent.

“Dr. Martirano exemplifies the qualities our community values most in a superintendent,” said Vaillancourt. “Under his leadership, the school system has made significant strides over the last seven months in rebuilding community trust and strengthening school system management. He has demonstrated the ability, and willingness, to tackle even the thorniest challenges through a rare combination of diplomacy, innovation, persistence and grace.”

“I am honored and humbled by this vote of confidence, and deeply grateful for the warm welcome and strong support I have received from staff and community members throughout the county,” said Martirano. “I am confident that our renewed spirit of goodwill and collaboration will buoy our efforts and lead to even greater achievements over the months ahead. This is an exciting opportunity to build an even brighter future for Howard County students and become a premier school system in the nation.”

During Martirano’s tenure, HCPSS has re-established collaborative relations with state and county governments, leading to the restoration of $9.6 million in state capital funding and a commitment to accelerate the 13th county high school by two years. An organizational restructuring has resulted in a flatter, more responsive central office that is more closely aligned to system priorities. He successfully navigated the school system through an arduous redistricting process while mitigating community disruption and expanding educational program innovations.

Martirano has also advanced diversity and inclusion priorities through the appointment of a diversity, equity and inclusion director, a focus on revising hiring practices to increase staff diversity, and outreach to the special education community through establishment of a new parent liaison position and a special education strategic plan. The school system has made transparency and responsiveness top priorities under his guidance, launching a new online public information access response and tracking system that is the first of its kind in the region, implementing a forensic audit, and adopting more stringent financial oversight procedures.

“We are so thankful to the community for responding and providing their input during this process. Compared to similar searches in even larger jurisdictions, the level of community feedback we received is unprecedented,” added Vallancourt. “The community confirmed the Board’s belief that Dr. Martirano’s on-the-job performance over these last seven months has given us an opportunity to witness his leadership firsthand and that we’ve learned much more than we would have learned in a series of interviews or reference checks.”

The Board has received positive feedback from government partners on this decision.

“During his relatively brief time as interim superintendent, Dr. Martirano has restored the public’s trust in the school system with his strong understanding of the budget and his creative approach to tackling long-standing problems,” said Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “If the last seven months have been any indication, he’s going to be a tremendous advocate for the students, parents, teachers and administrators of our schools.”

“Dr. Martirano moved quickly in May to build collaborative relationships on every level – government, families and staff – and I commend the Board of Education on this announcement,” said Senator Guy Guzzone, Chair of Howard County’s Delegation to the Maryland State Senate. “As the school system tackles budget and capital planning challenges, Dr. Martirano’s experience and ability to engage stakeholders will be critical to putting sustainable plans in place.”

“I congratulate Dr. Michael Martirano on his selection as superintendent of Howard County Public Schools. As interim superintendent, he has quickly, effectively, and with an outstanding demeanor, given our schools the positive leadership that it needed,” said Delegate Eric Ebersole, Chair of Howard County’s Delegation to the Maryland House of Delegates. “Upticks in morale and hopefulness are already evident since he has taken the helm. I also congratulate the Howard County Board of Education for moving decisively to keep this positive force for our schools in place for the future.”

Dr. Martirano’s biography may be found online.