In Zone 2, Marty Heyen is defending her seat against Raul Marquez. While board members represent pre-determined district, they are elected by the district at-large.
Heyen, a retired IT professional, was first elected to the board in 2015. Marquez is a recent McKay High School grad and student at Willamette University.
Keizertimes sent both candidates the same questions to give readers a sense of their priorities and qualifications for the role.
Keizertimes: What skills and expertise do you bring to the role of school board director?
Marty Heyen: There is nothing like real life experience on the School Board. I have served for almost four years. I understand how the board worksand how to get things done. Unfortunately, most people think we can do things we currently cannot. Many things are dictated by the Oregon Legislature and the Oregon Department of Education and so are out of our reach. I am a mother of a recent graduate who attended Salem-Keizer schools from Pre-K through graduation. I am a tax-payer and understand how our decisions can affect family finances. My background is in information technology which is all about problem solving, I use these skills often. I currently serve as a Marion County Parks Commissioner, on Salem’s Community Emergency Response Team and Marion County Amateur Radio Emergency Services.
Raul Marquez: I know how to work collaboratively with people from all walks of life to find solutions for the betterment of all our students. I have a proven record of getting things done and I hope to bring this mentality to the school board. As a high school senior, I raised $412,000, to purchase a house, now known as Taylor’s House, the first overnight youth homeless shelter in the Mid-Willamette Valley. Furthermore my experience as a recent graduate will allow me to better understand the needs of our students, parents and our educators so that we may better serve them.
KT: What motivated you to seek election/re-election?
MH: There is nothing I enjoy more than helping people. Regardless of who in the community it is, being able to be a voice for them gives me great satisfaction.
With any new job, it takes time to get acclimated and become proficient. It took two full years of watching, listening and having different experiences addressed on the board to get me to a point where I felt I could be a contributor and have my voice heard and respected on the board. For me to not run again would be to waste the time I have invested in our families and schools.
RM: I decided to run for the Salem-Keizer school board after an active community member asked me if I would ever consider running for the school board. This began a series of meetings which involved students, parents and other community members discussing the current state of the school district. I am honored to have been considered by several members as a strong candidate to represent Zone 2. Currently three of my siblings are enrolled in Salem- Keizer schools and it is important to me that all students receive access to the best education possible. Attending schools in Zone 2 provided me with the first hand knowledge about some of the needs of students that are not being met and about the inequities we are faced with as a district. I believe that I will be able to serve our community by providing a unique and fresh perspective to the school board.
KT: What do you feel is the most important issue facing the school district as a whole?
MH: Bullying and graduation rates. Bullying has ramifications far beyond those of just the action itself. The object of the bullying many times may feel alone and unable to continue with their education. They may experience physical affects like feeling sick or be highly stressed and unable concentrate in class or on homework. In extreme cases it may lead to the student hurting other people or taking their own life.
Unfortunately, bullying appears to be out of control across our country affecting children and adults everywhere.
Graduation is the litmus test we use to determine if we are successful. We have made over all improvements every year that I have served on the board. We can improve these rates more by keeping students engaged by offering them opportunities like art, music, theater, sports, technical classes and a bully-free environment.
RM: I believe that one of the most important issues we are facing as school district is large class sizes. I experienced first hand what it is like to be in classrooms that were overcapacity, While as a district we are seeing large class sizes, we must acknowledge that there are schools, predominantly low-income and majority students of color, that are being impacted more than other schools. It is imperative that we address this issue through an equity lens.
KT: What can be done at the school board level to address that issue?
MH: We are a policy board; it takes a strong unified board who are all committed to the same issues to set the goals for the district and to enable and give the superintendent the resources needed to obtain our goals. We can also continue to have conversations with the community and partner with groups with expertise, especially in dealing with bullying and suicide prevention.
RM: I believe that large class sizes derive from the lack of funding for our schools. If we fully funded our schools we would have the ability to hire more educators and provide additional classrooms for our students. We have a very unique opportunity to reduce class sizes with the bond that passed recently. It will be critical that we continue to have discussions through an equity lens to make the most from this opportunity. Furthermore, we must ensure that as a school board we work with the state Legislature to guarantee that we fully fund our schools. If passed, House Bill 2019 would allow for our board to have discussions surrounding how we can reduce class sizes while also addressing other issues we face as a district by providing $2 billion for our schools. It will not be enough to depend on the changes made through the bond and funding from the state Legislature so it will be crucial that as a board we seek to create community partnerships with local businesses and organizations that will provide additional avenues for revenue, and create opportunities and resources for our students to gain hands on experience outside of the traditional classroom setting.
KT: What issues, if any, would you like to see the school board address with greater urgency in the next four years?
MH: Bullying is the most urgent issue facing our students in my opinion.
RM: I would like to see the school board empower parents, students and educators through the decision making process. I would like to see the board empower parents to be actively involved in their students education. I would also like to see the board diversify our staff and educators. Furthermore, I would like for the board to work to provide more staff training to meet the needs of students from diverse backgrounds and cultures. I would like the board to consider equitable policies that will enable more students, regardless of their income, to participate in our award-winning music programs and other activities. I want to see the board support CTEC and the expansion of CTE programs in the district. I expect the board to support students by providing mental health resources. I would like to see the board seek to improve graduation rates by providing them with the support and resources necessary.