Superintendent wants SAISD to be district that 'defies the odds'

Pedro Martinez delivers remarks at State of the District breakfast

SAN ANTONIO – The superintendent of the San Antonio Independent School District said the third-largest district in the city is a work in progress.

Superintendent Pedro Martinez on Friday delivered the State of the District breakfast, where he touted the district's improvements in the three years he's been on the job.

Martinez pointed to new programs that are attracting students from out of the district and teachers pushing kids to attend the best colleges.

Every high school student is now required to take either the SAT and ACT before graduation, and every elementary student is evaluated to discover their talents, regardless of family income.

"Who we want to be is the district that defies the odds about children attending and graduating from college," Martinez said.

But the district faces many challenges, including the fact that almost all of the students who attend SAISD schools come from poor or middle-income families. 

Martinez said of the 50,000 students who attend SAISD schools, 7,000 are in public housing and 2,000 don't have a public address. He said SAISD and nearby districts serve 80 percent of the poorest kids in Bexar County.

He blames much of the poverty on the city and county for not pumping money into the district's neighborhoods in the past.

With the lack of a tax base in the area, Martinez said the district doesn't get the funding it needs.

Despite the financial difficulties the district faces, Martinez is sticking to his commitments of attaining 100 percent high school graduation and having 80 percent of his students attend higher education by 2020.

Martinez knows the odds are against him, but he's not giving up.

"We can help these children succeed, regardless of what the statistics show us," he said.