After more than a decade away, Pedro Martinez rejoined Chicago Public Schools as CEO with an overflowing inbox. A safe reopening amid the pandemic was first and foremost, but testing was low, and so was the number of eligible kids who were fully vaccinated. There were kids who couldn’t get to school, thanks to a shortage of bus drivers. And there were dirty classrooms, thanks to a shortage of custodians. A.D. Quig spoke with Martinez on Nov. 3 – before the departure of CPS’ facilities chief over those dirty classroom, and before the district announced Nov. 12 would be a day off so CPS families and kids aged 5-11 could get their COVID vaccine. COVID aside, Martinez needs to address continued falling enrollment, relations with the Chicago Teachers Union after the 2019 strike and a budget that faces an uncertain future after federal relief dollars run out. And there’s more to do. Building on what he did running one of San Antonio’s school districts, Martinez hinted he wants to relieve pressure on CPS’ booming magnet schools – and offer better options to kids closer to their homes. Following reported abuses at the Chicago Park District, and years after CPS weathered its own sexual abuse scandal, he says he wants to get tougher laws and reporting requirements in place. He also wants to restore trust with the union, says Mayor Lori Lightfoot gets a bad rap, and argues the fight over an elected school board is not over.