Marty Heyen (Courtesy photo)

Marty Heyen wants a second term advocating for parents on the Salem-Keizer School Board.

First elected in 2015, the retired state IT worker represents zone two, the portion of northeast Salem including McKay High School. She’s seeking a second term to continue focusing on building the district’s career and technical education programs, growing graduation rates and addressing bullying in schools.

“I want to do more of what we have been doing,” she said, referring to district-wide increases in high school graduation rates last year.

Her opponent is Raul Marquez, a 2018 McKay graduate who says he’ll bring the board valuable perspective as a Latino graduate of the city’s most diverse high school.

Heyen voted to approve a controversial set of school boundary changes in February after many McKay teachers, staff and students told the board they didn’t think the changes would do enough to alleviate overcrowding.

Heyen said she shared those concerns and supported the plan because it would “provide immediate relief for McKay in the fall.” Before voting, she promised community members she’d remain engaged in plans for expanding the school, which are currently being drafted, and look for ways to improve programs and reduce crowding.

“You have my word that we will look at and discuss these options to try and make McKay a better place to go to school,” she said.

Heyen ran last year for state representative in House District 22 as a Republican, losing to incumbent Teresa Alonso Leon.

Heyen’s 20-year-old son graduated from the district’s Early College High School, where he found success after facing bullying at a traditional high school. She pushed for the district to partner with Safe Oregon during her first term and said she wants to continue addressing bullying.

She said it’s important schools offer a wide array of programs, including career and technical education, so students can find something to engage them.

“The kids that do music or do sports or have that one thing in the school that keeps them there … we need to find that one thing for each of our students,” she said.

She’d like to see the district’s Career Technical Education Center, where students spend half their week in a specific job-training program, become a model for schools across Oregon.

“It keeps kids engaged and engaged kids are more likely to graduate,” she said.

School funding is a key issue for many Salem-Keizer educators, and while board members have no direct say in the legislature’s decisions, they can advocate on behalf of their districts.

Heyen said local schools do need more money to address problems like student behavior and lower class sizes. But she’d like to see the legislature find that money by addressing waste in other areas of state government rather than raising taxes.

“We need to do it in a creative way where we’re not putting an additional burden on the public,” she said.

In February, she voted for a board resolution calling on the legislature to adopt stable and adequate funding for local schools, but said she didn’t agree with wording criticizing Measure 5 for underfunding schools.

“It’s not because people don’t care. It’s because we have a finite amount of money,” she said.

This article was updated to include information about Heyen's run for state representative.

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

Follow Salem Reporter on FACEBOOK and on TWITTER.

SUBSCRIBE TO SALEM REPORTER -- For $10 a month, you hire our entire news team to work for you all month digging out the news of Salem and state government. You get breaking news alerts, emailed newsletters and around-the-clock access to our stories. We depend on subscribers to pay for in-depth, accurate news. Help us grow and get better with your subscription. Sign up HERE.