Retired educator Robert Salazar to represent Keizer on school board

A retired principal and longtime educator in Marion County will represent the Keizer area on the Salem-Keizer School Board through mid-2023.

A majority of board directors voted for Robert Salazar to fill the vacant seat on the board at a meeting Tuesday.

Salazar served as principal of Washington and Myers elementary schools in the district and also worked in Woodburn schools during his 45-year career, which includes time as a middle school and migrant summer school teacher.

During a Nov. 3 interview, he told the board he would focus on promoting student safety with consistent standards for discipline and behavior, training educators to work with students from diverse backgrounds and academic recovery from the pandemic.

“The pandemic really set us back, across the nation,” he said during the interview. “With this came a wider gap in the diversity of students that we encounter and so with that we would need to look at those strategies.”

Salazar was one of 10 applicants who sought the position after former school board Director Danielle Bethell resigned her seat in October. The seat covers zone 6, Keizer, on the board and is up for election in May, with the term expiring June 30, 2023.

In his application for the seat, he said the interference of special interest groups on the board have caused disruption and made it difficult to focus on students, and said he’d like to work on collaboration to focus on positive outcomes.

“A school board can best thrive by addressing data from school and district administration. There are many facets of a large school district that require a school board to have accurate information to make decisions that are valid and not initiated by special interest groups,” he wrote.

Board Chair Ashley Carson Cottingham, Vice Chair Maria Hinojos Pressey, 2nd Vice Chair Karina Guzmán Ortiz and Director Osvaldo Avila voted for Salazar Tuesday night. Director Satya Chandragiri voted for parent Ross Ziesemer for the seat.

Director Marty Heyen was absent.

“It’ll be a real honor for me to serve with the people on the board at this time. Thank you,” Salazar said after taking the oath of office.

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

JUST THE FACTS, FOR SALEM – We report on your community with care and depth, fairness and accuracy. Get local news that matters to you. Subscribe to Salem Reporter. Click I want to subscribe!

Rachel Alexander is Salem Reporter’s managing editor. She joined Salem Reporter when it was founded in 2018 and covers city news, education, nonprofits and a little bit of everything else. She’s been a journalist in Oregon and Washington for a decade. Outside of work, she’s a skater and board member with Salem’s Cherry City Roller Derby and can often be found with her nose buried in a book.