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Michael Martirano was reappointed Wednesday as superintendent of St. Mary’s public schools for a third four-year-term.

Though contract details still must be worked out between the board of education and superintendent, Sal Raspa, school board chair, organized a ceremony to honor Martirano’s continued tenure on the job he has held since 2005.

“Stability in leadership matters,” Martirano said at the start of the school board’s regular meeting. All of the county’s public school principals as well as dozens of other employees were in the room to hear the announcement. Cake was served afterward.

“We’ve got the right people on the bus in the right seats,” Martirano said. “Hold on tight, because the next four years are going to be some fun as well.”

Martirano, who was at one point the youngest superintendent in the state, now is among the longest serving of the 24 school system superintendents in Maryland.

Martirano’s new term will run from July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2017. He will negotiate a contract with the school board members sometime during the next four months.

Martirano’s current annual salary is $216,986. That is the seventh highest of Maryland’s 24 school jurisdictions, according to data from October 2012.

“Thank you for being more than we could imagine,” said board member Cathy Allen, who was on the school board when Martirano was first named St. Mary’s superintendent. “It is a challenging job.”

School board members, principals and others at Wednesday’s announcement praised Martirano for his communication skills, integrity, trustworthiness and vision.

“He’s made us one of the most progressive systems in the state, if not the nation,” Garth Bowling, principal of Chopticon High School, said.

Martirano previously worked in several Maryland school systems as a science teacher, principal and school administrator. He was director of school administration for Howard County public schools before coming to St. Mary’s as superintendent.

“My entire life has been devoted to make life better for you,” Martirano said to students in the room.

Anna Laughlin, president of the local teachers union, said Martirano has made St. Mary’s known and respected among Maryland educators. “I know you get it. You understand how important the people are to this school system,” Laughlin said.

Automatic raises are not built in for the superintendent; they must come in the form of addenda to his contract approved by the school board. He received a $3,200 raise this school year; the first in three years.

He has also received enhancements in other benefits. Based on a contract amendment negotiated last summer, he is currently given 78 days of annual leave a year, or about 1½ days a week. He can cash out up to 58 days of unused annual leave a year.

He also gets 52 days of sick leave a year, or one day a week, and 10 vacation days a year, according to his current contract. He has a $12,000 annual car allowance.

As superintendent of St. Mary’s public school system, Martirano oversees about 3,000 employees — including teachers, administrators, substitutes and bus drivers under contract who, in turn, educate and transport more than 17,000 students.

During the eight years leading St. Mary’s schools, graduation rates have improved, new high school pathways for students, including the STEM academies and Fairlead Academy, were established, and the school system grew by about 1,000 students.

“We will not take any less than what you’ve given us so far,” Brooke Matthews, school board vice chair, said.

jyeatman@somdnews.com