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New Salem-Keizer Superintendent Brings Changes to the District

Written by Luis Ramirez on Sep. 26th, 2023

Salem-Keizer introduced new superintendent Andrea Castaneda this summer and she’s quickly made an impression on the community.

Within her first 100 days in office, her focus was on board relations, teaching and learning, student and community engagement and operations, safety, and finance.

Dr. Satya Chandragiri was the first person of color to be selected as the Salem-Keizer School Board Chair (July 2020-July 2021) and still serves on the board.  

“I feel that it is not anything new, but the new direction is very good,” Chandragiri said. “I’m already pleased with the changes that I’m seeing. She’s very organized, transparent, and accountable. She is totally focused and got us to sit on a board retreat. How do we as a board delegate and what is the board’s responsibility.”

Castaneda is focused on making changes in the district while also being sure to include the board and communities’ input. 

“I was impressed with her humility, leadership skills and ability to work with and respect everyone,” Chandragiri said. “She’s brilliant in doing that. This is a new experience I’m having and despite being the first person of color to be chair of the school board, I never felt truly heard and seen.”

One of the main changes Castaneda hopes to institute is the development of an early literacy plan.

“Things needed to be changed because the state had changed some of the testing,” Chandragiri said. We had a work session, and the entire thing was focused on literacy and academies. A sense of belonging where all children feel a sense of belonging. This is a novice concept because before we never had these outcomes before.”

The district will have some upcoming budgetary issues that will need to get resolved as a COVID grant will no longer be available. 

“Financially we’ll have some difficulty, and we need to leave a good cushion since we will no longer get a COVID grant after this year so the budget will be smaller,” Chandragiri said. “These are important things that will get us back on track and be able to work with other agencies. State, city, county, child services, etc.”

The jury is still out on how these changes will affect the individual students, but at least with one board member, the change in leadership has been positive. 

This is the first time we truly have a diverse school board,” Chandragiri said. “I really feel like this superintendent can bring the community together.”

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