"I want to make sure we have a long-term financial plan because we cannot be in this year after year trying to figure out what's going to happen next," Martinez said after he met with teachers. "It's amazing when you have financial stability what you can do. ... When a district is out of control financially, there's no confidence."
He did not give specifics on how he would turn the district around financially.
"I've been following Philly since 2000. I've seen the ebbs and flows. Every time there's a new leader, there's financial upheaval and things get slightly better but it's never enough," Martinez told community members and parents at Monday's public forum.
Before working in Clark County, Martinez was deputy superintendent at Washoe County (Reno) schools in Nevada, where he is currently a finalist for the superintendent job. The certified public accountant previously worked for Chicago Public Schools under Arne Duncan, now the U.S. secretary of education
His top priorities are "embracing the community, learning more about the culture and history of this amazing city," Martinez said, as well as having "critical conversations" in the community.
How will the district expand quality options for students? How will the district efficiently use all the talent in the community and in the district? How will it deal with its current deficits?
"That's the right conversation that has to occur," he said.
Community and parental reaction were mixed.
"We've been to a lot of these community meetings. It really took a lot of effort to get myself to come out here and listen again," said parent Sonya Brintnall, 41, who has two children in the district. "We can say whatever we want. We can ask whatever we want, they don't answer the questions. It's always kind of a tap dance."
Rosemarie Hatcher, president of the Philadelphia Home and School Council Board, said that by the end of the day, after watching his talks streamed live, she was sold on Martinez.
"I'm becoming very impressed with him," she said. “I believe he believes he can do this. He may accomplish what he feels he can do. He's extremely confident, it's a gut instinct, but I do think he can pull it off.
The second superintendent candidate, William R. Hite, will meet the public Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at school district headquarters on Broad Street near Spring Garden.
Email Regina Medina at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @reginamedina