Public rallies around honoring Keizer educators with new school name

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Salvador Reyes (KEIZERTIMES/File Photo)

By HERB SWETT
For the Keizertimes

Audience comments on naming the two new elementary schools in the Salem-Keizer School District took up much of the time of Tuesday night’s School Board meeting.

Neither school under construction is in or near Keizer, but a few Keizer residents spoke. A district oversight subcommittee has recommended Cesar E. Chavez Elementary School for the one in East Salem and Battle Creek Elementary School for the one in South Salem, and the board approved first reading of the proposal. Action is scheduled for the board’s February meeting.

Without specifying which school should get which name, most speakers favored naming them after Salvador Reyes and Cathy Mink. Reyes, who moved with his family from Mexico to Salem, did volunteer work for the district in several capacities, including coaching soccer at McNary High School, and worked with the Keizer Soccer Club. Mink was a longtime teacher and principal in the district.

A few spoke in favor of the committee’s recommendations. Terry Murphy, Rosanna Reyes and Melinda Culwell, all of Keizer, favored Reyes and Mink, preferring names from school system history to names for a national figure who was not specifically associated with this area and for a geographic feature. Matt Faatz of Keizer spoke for the Reyes name but did not mention Mink.

Mary Paulson, school district chief of staff, said the committee, after receiving more than 550 nominations of more than 100 names, felt “very strongly” that it should not favor some former district employees over others.

Director Ron Jones said he would support the subcommittee’s recommendations. Director Chris Brantley said that the arguments he had just heard presented “an interesting dilemma” and that he tended to agree with the subcommittee.  Director Chuck Lee, whose region includes Keizer, was absent.

In other business, the board:

• Voted to support state Senate Bill 1581, which would create achievement compacts between educational entities and the Oregon Education Investment Board. The compacts would set goals for education and report results.

• Approved funding of special programs from the Willamette Education Service District, to be in effect for the district until it officially withdraws from the WESD.

• Approved personnel actions, including the retirement of Gayle Carrier as a librarian at Cummings Elementary School.

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