New Oregon superintendents unveil plans for first days in office

By Elizabeth Miller (OPB)
July 10, 2023 1 p.m.

Three of Oregon’s largest school districts to start the year with new leaders.

At the Salem-Keizer school board meeting Tuesday, new superintendent Andrea Castañeda will present the plan for her first 100 days.

Castañeda plans to focus on community engagement, relationships with school board members, teaching, and school operations, setting a 100-day deadline to meet with board members, create an early literacy plan, and launching a “superintendent’s youth cabinet.”


In the 13-page plan, Castañeda said she intends to start her job at Oregon’s second largest school district with her “personal commitment to equity” leading the way.

“For me, equity means providing students and the adults who serve them with accessible, recurring opportunities to grow fully into their talents, skills and identity,” she shared. “In equitable schools, students learn the foundational skills necessary for a lifetime of opportunity, and staff collaborate in a working environment that is supportive, professionally challenging and personally safe and rewarding.”

Andrea Castañeda comes to Salem-Keizer from Tulsa Public Schools.

Andrea Castañeda comes to Salem-Keizer from Tulsa Public Schools.

Courtesy of Salem-Keizer Public Schools / OPB

In the first 100 days, Castañeda said she plans to “support the board in a return to in-person meetings.” The school district has received some criticism from community members for holding meetings that are only open to the public virtually.

Castañeda, who last served in a district administrative role in Oklahoma, is taking over from Christy Perry, who retired at the end of the last school year.

But Salem-Keizer is not the only school district starting the year with a new leader. Three of Oregon’s largest school districts, including Salem-Keizer, will have new permanent superintendents.

Leaders in the other two districts, Hillsboro and Reynolds, may be familiar to the district communities. New Hillsboro Superintendent Travis Reiman is an internal hire, having previously served as Assistant Superintendent.


He succeeds Mike Scott, who retired last month after 14 years leading the Washington County district.

Reiman also put together a plan for his first few months as superintendent. His goals include helping launch the district’s new 5-year strategic plan as well as creating more opportunities for conversations with community members and students.

“By October of 2023, this plan will have supported a seamless transition into a superintendency that will be characterized by trust, open communication, innovation and accelerated student achievement,” Reiman shared in his plan.

In the Reynolds School District, Frank Caropelo started this month as permanent superintendent after he was announced as interim superintendent after former superintendent Danna Diaz resigned.

Caropelo used to be Reynolds’ assistant superintendent before working as the Hillsboro School District’s executive director of high schools. In 2018, he was a finalist for the Reynolds superintendent job but lost out to Diaz.

Though Caropelo didn’t become permanent superintendent until July 1, school board members approved his three-year contract in March. Around the same time, the school board suspended its policy outlining the recruitment process, essentially bypassing a process that typically includes a nationwide search and public input on the superintendent finalists.

Other school districts with new leaders this year include Lincoln County, Clatskanie, and Neah-Kah-Nie. Woodburn and North Bend school districts have hired interim superintendents.

Leadership changes in education are also happening at the state level, with new Oregon Department of Education director Charlene Williams starting her job on an interim basis this month. She’ll need to be confirmed by the Senate before becoming permanent director.

In addition to superintendents and a new ODE director, new school members are also being sworn in this month across Oregon.

Over the last few years, relationships between school boards and superintendents have been tense at times, with some school boards in Oregon moving to fire school superintendents without cause. That tension led to legislation that offers some protections for superintendents.

Despite the bill, at least one Oregon superintendent decided to leave their post as newly elected school board members start their positions. Crook County superintendent Sara Johnson announced last month that the election of board members opposed to curriculum supportive of the LGBTQ community “played a significant role” in her resignation.