clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

New CPS CEO says he agreed to 5-year contract

Pedro Martinez’s deal to lead Chicago’s schools is longer than his predecessor’s and likely to be far more lucrative.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez smiles during a press conference where he, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady and Ald. Michael Scott (24th) gave an update about COVID-19 infections and protocols in Chicago Public Schools at City Hall in the Loop, Thursday morning, Sept. 30, 2021.
Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez smiles during a press conference where he, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady and Ald. Michael Scott (24th) gave an update about COVID-19 infections and protocols in Chicago Public Schools at City Hall in the Loop, Thursday morning, Sept. 30, 2021.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez said Friday he has agreed to a five-year contract — at his insistence — for roughly the same salary and benefit package he was receiving at a San Antonio school system one-seventh as large as the one he attended and now leads.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS officials have repeatedly declined to share the exact terms of Martinez’s Chicago contract, claiming even after he was hired that his compensation was still being negotiated. Unless the mayor changes course on the issue, the terms of his deal will not be known until the Chicago Board of Education votes on it in late October.

But Martinez told the Sun-Times, without getting into specifics, the total compensation package will be comparable to what he was getting in San Antonio, where he was paid $315,000 per year, plus 20% or $63,000 toward a retirement account and $8,400 more for a cell phone and local travel.

“The package will be public soon,” Martinez said. “But I can tell you I didn’t come here for the money. It really was because I’m committed to this city, to this district.”

He said the contract “will be comparable to San Antonio. When you add the salary and the benefits and the retirement, it’s very comparable ... to what I had in San Antonio. But for me, it was never about the money, and I did ask for the longest contract that could be possibly given. So you’ll see that when the contract comes out because I am not here just for a short stint. I am here for the long run.”

The CPS CEO salary has already jumped 28% since December, from $260,000 a year for former schools chief Janice Jackson, to $300,000 when she got a mid-winter raise, to $335,000 for interim CEO José Torres, although he only received a portion of that after working just a few months. Jackson’s January 2018 contract was for three and a half years.

Under further questioning, Martinez acknowledged the “longest contract that could be possibly given” turned out to be five years. That was his bare minimum.

“The only way I would take this position is if I could get the longest contract possible because the challenges here — they’re gonna take time, and we need stability at all district levels, including mine,” he said.

Martinez will oversee about 39,000 employees.

The district had an enrollment of 340,000 students last year, which has since plunged to 327,000, according to preliminary figures Martinez provided to the Sun-Times. The San Antonio Independent School District has just 48,000 students.

Martinez was asked why, if his compensation package in fact turns out to be comparable to San Antonio, he would accept a bigger and more challenging job without getting a substantial pay raise.

“For me, it was never about the money to come. I hoped to at least just be comparable,” he said.

“Chicago is a more expensive city than San Antonio. But it is my city. It’s my hometown. I love my city. And so, for me, it was never about that.”

Even at his San Antonio salary, Martinez would be one of the highest paid city of Chicago employees.

Four years ago, the search for a new city tourism chief was conducted by a 20-member committee led by Desiree Rogers, who was board chair of Choose Chicago. The winning candidate was David Whitaker, chief marketing officer at Brand USA.

Whitaker was rewarded with a base salary of $380,000 a year, but his total, five-year package included an annual 25% bonus for meeting unspecified “tourism targets.”