J. Efrain Martinez, a longtime leader in local charter school circles, will retire as superintendent of Charter School for Applied Technologies at the end of the school year.
A succession plan is in place while there’s a search for a new superintendent, the school announced Friday.
Martinez, meanwhile, will stay on part time after June 30 to help with the charter’s renewal for 2019, along with other non-leadership duties.
Martinez, 64, began at CSAT as principal in 2003 and was named superintendent in August 2005.
When he first arrived, he told its board of trustees he would stay for five years.
“It ended up being 15,” Martinez said.
During his tenure, student enrollment at the school has grown by more than 200 percent. CSAT, located on Kenmore Avenue along the Buffalo-Town of Tonawanda border, expanded from an elementary school to a kindergarten to 12th grade campus with three buildings and 2,180 students, making it not only the largest charter school in the region, but in the state.
He’s most proud of that.
“The growth of the school to more than 2,000 students was not pursued to just be the biggest, but to have the revenue necessary to do all of the things we do – our STEM programs that go from K to 12, our advanced manufacturing labs, our one-to-one computer ratio,” he said. “All that needed to be done with the way charter schools are funded.”
Martinez also helped CSAT forge partnerships throughout Western New York, leading to a number of building upgrades and relationships with local businesses to ensure students graduate with career skills that are in demand, said David Quackenbush, president of the school’s board of trustees.
The school saw 95 percent of students in the Class of 2017 graduate on time last year.
“Efrain has been instrumental in helping CSAT achieve high levels of success,” Quackenbush said in a statement. “His strong leadership has brought the district to the outstanding level it is at today, and for that we are grateful.”
Martinez plans to remain in the Buffalo area, which is one of the reasons he stayed so long at CSAT.
“The other reason was the product was so good,” Martinez said of CSAT. “I stayed because the board allowed the staff to do that which we needed to do to get to where we are.”