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WVUSD Board of Trustees Hires New Superintendent

Newly hired Walnut Valley Unified School District Superintendent Robert Taylor talks to Board Member Phillip Chen (May 15, 2013)
Newly hired Walnut Valley Unified School District Superintendent Robert Taylor talks to Board Member Phillip Chen (May 15, 2013)
With the words “you’re in,” the Walnut Valley Unified School District’s Board of Trustees welcomed a new superintendent.  

About three months after hiring a search firm, the board Wednesday night voted 5-0 to approve a four-year employment agreement and appoint Robert Taylor as superintendent. 

Taylor will take the helm from Superintendent Dean Conklin, who retires in June.  

His base salary is listed at $215,000, according to the agreement.  He also will get a $550 monthly expense stipend and $450 a month for a car allowance.  

The Corona-Norco Unified School District deputy superintendent of educational services attended the board meeting with his wife Tamara, a middle school teacher.  

“I’m excited I’m humbled to have this opportunity to work with fantastic people and such an outstanding district,” Taylor said. “The reputation of Walnut Valley speaks for itself.”  

Board President Helen Hall recounted a visit to Corona-Norco where Walnut Valley Unified officials met with around 50 people in groups who had worked with Taylor.  

“They spoke very highly of him, how visible he is in the community and how he brings people together,” she said. “I think that will be a strong point for our district.”  

Walnut Valley Unified administrators and the Walnut Valley Educators’ Association leadership have clashed in the last couple years, with the group representing the district’s teachers expressing concerns about a lack of communication and strained negotiations. 

Hall said the district can always make improvements and plans to do so under Taylor’s leadership.  

“I think as a board, we made the right decision in selecting Dr. Taylor as the next superintendent in this district," she said.  

Taylor, who began his administrative career in the Yucaipa-Calimesa Joint Unified, also has served as an administrative director, principal, assistant principal, and teacher, according to Walnut Valley Unified's news release.  He is an adjunct professor of education at the U.C. Irvine, where he earned a bachelor's degree in English.  He also has a master's degree in educational administration and a doctorate in educational leadership from Azusa Pacific University.

Board Clerk Cindy Ruiz said it was talking to secretaries who worked with Taylor, union representatives, and others connected to the Corona-Norco district that impressed her.  

“The CSEA president said ‘we are sick that’s he’s leaving. He’s a phenomenal individual,’” Ruiz said. “They said he has a tremendous way of being able to bring people together.”  

The board members also took some time to express appreciation for Conklin’s work for the district.    

The outgoing superintendent announced in December his plan to retire at the end of this school year.  The 33-year educator became Walnut Valley Unified’s superintendent in January 2011 after leading the Duarte Unified School District for five years.   

Before his Duarte stint, Conklin worked at Walnut Valley Unified for 12 years.   Board Vice President Nancy Lyons ribbed Conklin about the district’s real loss with his departure, the superintendent’s wife.  

“Dr Conklin is leaving here too quickly,” she said.  “We are sorry to see you go. Quite frankly, we are sorry we’re losing Babs.”  

Conklin thanked the board members for their support.  He called the nearly 15 years working for Walnut Valley “the best years of his life.”  

He said he has enjoyed his nine years as a superintendent, seven in Duarte and two in Walnut Valley.  

“It’s been invigorating,” he said.  "It’s been a blast. It’s been challenging in a very very positive way.”        

Concerned Parent May 16, 2013 at 10:58 AM
I really hope he will be better than the two previous ones, who increased the Hispanics %% in WHS from 12 to 25% and drove ones to be best in Empire Valley school to almost oblivion!! I hope the two previous ones will never get any jobs in their miserable lives!
DB Clock May 16, 2013 at 11:51 AM
"...he has a tremendous way of being able to bring people together.” We don't need someone to bring irrational, money grubbing adults together...we just need someone to obey state law and put our "KIDS FIRST" by funding 100% of their needs, FIRST. Why does the district continue to violate the state mandated "Free School Guarantee", pressure parents to "donate" thousands in supplies to our children's classrooms, while underfunding our kids? Does anyone care that only $14 of each child's $6,000+ ADA makes it to some of our classrooms while the vast majority of the $100,000,000+ budget goes into the pockets of adults? I hope Superintendent Taylor chews on that every time he hops into his $450/month car and spends his $550/month slush fund on who knows what.
Vito Spago May 16, 2013 at 01:08 PM
Whenever I used to take a new job I used to take days to research my potential new employer to see if I was getting myself into a worse job than I was leaving. Seems Taylor was really fooled and must have gone for the big money. Only a fool would work for the Walnut School District with rabid tiger parents and greedy union teachers. He has a nice contract. 4 years of grief coming our way. He can hope he angers enough folks that they buy his contract out early.
Concerned Parent May 16, 2013 at 03:24 PM
Vito, since my comment was deleted, I will say it again. The WHS used the be the top school in Inland Empire. Thanks to the board and two previous superintendents it has been nearly destroyed.
Vito Spago May 16, 2013 at 04:37 PM
Concerned Parent: I believe you. Do you remember Ray Watson? I liked him. Hope he was a good guy.
shazaam May 16, 2013 at 05:28 PM
Wait a second??!!Walnut Valley has been issuing out pink slips and this guy gets 215,000 a year plus a 550 monthly stipend along with 450 a month for car allowance? Are you F'N kidding me? Concerned Parent: When was Walnut Valley part of the Inland Empire? Aren't they part of the SGV? Vito: People have different ways of raising a child. So if you had a choice would you work in Compton, ELA, or Walnut schools? BTW, not every teacher is a greedy union member. Believe it or not, there are quite a few teachers that I know of are anti-union.
Vito Spago May 16, 2013 at 05:43 PM
Shaszzam: If you are anti union then go work for a charter or private school and make what you are worth on your own abilities, not what can be extorted from the lame school district. And yes. I have found that in my work too, a company has all the money in the world for employees when they want to spend it. It is just they do not want to spend it on you. Hint hint, time to quit. Or perhaps kidnap your boss's family.
Concerned Parent May 21, 2013 at 10:46 AM
All I want to make sure that WHS will be for Walnut students! We have paid a hefty price for our house in 91789 and believe it's not fair to have low performing students from West Covina and Pomona.

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