SAN DIEGO—The San Diego Unified school board has named a veteran elementary school principal as the new district superintendent.

Board President John Lee Evans says in a statement Wednesday night the appointment of Cindy Marten is non-traditional and called it a bold step.

For the past 10 years, Marten has been principal of Central Elementary School in the City Heights area where 99 percent of the 850 students are poor and 85 percent are learning English. Evans says Marten has raised academic levels despite the challenges.

He says he wants Marten to replicate her success districtwide.

Marten's appointment comes a day after Bill Kowba announced he will not be seeking a renewal of his three-year contract, which expires June 30.

Marten is a 25-year educator who also taught in Poway.