WVUSD Superintendent Dean Conklin Announces Retirement

Conklin, who plans to retire in June, has served as superintendent since January 2011.

Walnut Valley Unified Superintendent Dean Conklin plans to retire from the district in June.

Conklin, 57, sent a notice to the Board of Trustees Monday about his intentions and spoke to the board more about it at a special meeting Wednesday night. He met with district staff today and sent out a letter as well, he said.

The 33-year educator took the helm of Walnut Valley Unified in January 2011.  He returned to Walnut after five years as superintendent of Duarte Unified School District.  His base salary is $215,000, which does not include a stipend, car allowance, and other benefits.

Before moving to Duarte, Conklin spent 12 years in Walnut, where he served as an assistant superintendent.

“When I came to Walnut Valley as a superintendent, I committed that I would stay here until my retirement from public service,” he said.  “I am proud of what I accomplished in my career, especially my 15 years in Walnut Valley.”

Board Member Cindy Ruiz said she doesn't want to see Conklin go.

"I am sad that Dr Conklin is retiring," she said by email. "He has accomplished much in his short time with us."

The other board members could not be reached for comment.

The district is facing financial struggles, recently submitting a negative certification for its first interim budget report to the Los Angeles County Office of Education, a first for Walnut Valley Unified officials said. 

Tensions between the district and the Walnut Valley Educators' Association also have been high of late, with the union recently filing a grievance related to the handling of an increase in kindergarten class size the leadership says violates the teachers’ contract.

At the Dec. 5 school board meeting, the presidents of the Walnut Valley Educators' Association and the Walnut Chapter of the California School Employees Association, among others, criticized the district’s deficit spending and accused the administration of not working collaboratively enough with the teachers and school staff.

Larry Taylor, WVEA president, said at that meeting that the superintendent’s call for six furlough days this school year and nine more in the next two years was the first he had heard of a plan to cut costs.

“We have not said we are not going to take any furlough days,” he said.  “We said ‘let’s sit down and see a plan.’ You have to involve the stakeholders in the plan.  We are all here to make this district fiscally responsible, to make sure that the check doesn’t bounce.”

Conklin and the board also had previously come under fire for the superintendent’s amount of vacation days.

Despite the recent budget struggles and tough negotiations with the unions, those factors did not prompt his decision to retire, Conklin said. Dealing with a variety of challenges is what superintendents do and the district’s challenges right now revolve around finances, he said.

A recent review of finances “indicates that decisions must be made to bring the budget back into balance,” Conklin said.  “I will be focused on that over the next six months, to ensure the continued success of our district by advocating for programs that define us.”

Maintaining key programs such as International Baccalaureate, dual immersion, and the arts, will be a priority, he added.

He said he is finding it tougher to muster the energy to hold on to the love of the job, a sign that it is time to leave. Conklin said he has some options but is going to take his remaining months to think about what to do next.

“I am in a unique position that at a relatively young age, I can retire,” he said.  “The decision is all about quality of life.  My quality of life is good.”





Michael December 14, 2012 at 01:16 AM
He sure did an awesome job leaving us on par with Inglewood who had to file the same budget notice- proud moment for Walnut & DB. Cindy Ruiz doesn't want to see him go??? I can think of 5 million reasons he should be FIRED. (the $5 million deficit in the budget). Wow, the WVUSD Board is impressed with this level of incompetence?
janae December 14, 2012 at 01:41 AM
yes, he has accomplished much. he drove the district to the fiscal cliff and now he is leaving them in the cold. he needs to take cindy ruiz with him, out of the school district.
Just a Teacher December 14, 2012 at 02:54 AM
I hope they don't fire him because then we would be stuck paying his salary like we did with Dr. Simms. I am not sure what kind of influence he can be right now in this lame duck position though.
Cynthia December 14, 2012 at 03:02 AM
I'm particularly thrilled that he makes more than VP Biden, Sens. Feinstein and Boxer, or all our CA senators and assemblymen. Not.
Barbara Tahir December 14, 2012 at 03:57 AM
Oh but Cynthia -- after all they didn't give him a car allowance! I was flabbergasted when I read that sentence. He makes $215,000. but after all he had to buy his own car. Why I could just weep that they didn't also give him a car allowance and a housing allowance too. What about an account at the grocery market? Did his shoes wear out? They should have cut the salary down to half of that!
Michael December 14, 2012 at 04:17 AM
He DOES get a car, the article states he "earns" $215K NOT including a car allowance- that's not included in the $215K. He also gets a "stipend" in ADDITION, whatever the hell that is. This guy probably makes $300,000. DAMN RIGHT his "quality of life is good"- boy, that's an understatement! I heard he is going to a private school in Pasadena, to "double dip" while Walnut taxpayers pay his generous pension for the next 40 years. When teachers take their pay cut/furlough days to solve his budget mess I guess things won't be so good for them. Cindy Ruiz seems so sad this budget genius is leaving- can you teachers please take up a donation to buy her a gift so she will feel better? Please do it before Christmas and your pay cut that Helen Hall is demanding from you.
Just a Teacher December 14, 2012 at 04:44 AM
You are correct again Michael. He does get extra perks including a car allowance. Not to mention the ability to cash out sick days and vacation time. He is going to be leaving WVUSD in a worse mess than when he took over. By the way, here is the power point our union put together to explain our position http://wvea.info/powerpoints/nov2012/page1.htm . The numbers used came straight from the distric's own budget. How are the teachers responsible for a 4.7 million shortfall?
Just a Teacher December 14, 2012 at 04:49 AM
And one more thing for those of you shocked by his pay. He was given a pay increase from day one when he took over from Dr. Simms. The boards reason? We need to pay the higher money to get the best. Well, apparently that doesn't hold true for teachers. We have not received our cost of living increase in about 7-8 years and we have taken on a higher percentage of the cost of benefits. It is the dedication of teachers that helps run the IB programs, AP classes, and the numerous clubs and class offices in the district, not the board.
Michael December 14, 2012 at 05:22 AM
Well, if teachers in the classroom have to take a pay cut, and my kids lose days of school, it will all be for a good cause: "Dr." Conklin's pension for the next 40 years and Helen Hall & Cindy Ruiz's shiny new iPads. The iPads must help them make better decisions [end of sarcasm].
Cynthia December 14, 2012 at 02:15 PM
You're SO right, Just a Teacher! And I don't understand how the district can continue to get by with shaving the truth (which used to be called lying when I was young). The past two superintendent situations have really done a number on the district's finances and they refuse to admit it or change.
janae December 14, 2012 at 05:36 PM
he should give back to the district his vacation pay.
DB Clock December 14, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Kids First? $215,000 was last years pay. He now makes $224,552. Here are some stats on district costs as of 12/10/2012: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/01/26/995141/see-how-well-your-school-district.html?appSession=424344130445753&RecordID=615&PageID=3&PrevPageID=2&cpipage=1&CPIsortType=&CPIorderBy=&cbCurrentRecordPosition=1
Just a Teacher December 15, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Some great information there. In fact, the average WVUSD teacher makes $75,685 which is roughly 10% higher than the state average for teacher pay. But our superintendent makes $224,552 which is 34% higher than the state average for superintendent. How does that happen? Where is the fair and equability there? And they want the teachers to take furlough days? Since 2008, the average teacher salary has increased about 6%. But our superintendent's salary has increase 14% over the same time. If our outgoing superintendent wants to be fair, he should reduce his pay to $183,700 which is 10% above the state average. We have that big banner behind the board touting our API score of 906 for the district. The state average is 788. Our district is 15% higher than the average. So explain how teachers need to take more of a cut? I hope this information gets out. Parents need to see that this crisis is a board problem not teacher created.
Cynthia December 16, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Somebody needs to take it upon themselves to do just that!
Michael December 16, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Unfortunately, I doubt anything will change because voters are too ignorant/apathetic. I can't recall when an incompetent incumbent was ever not re-elected. When offered a choice to put reformers on the Board with budget management experience, voters went with housewives- you can see the results for yourself. The teacher union management has a lot to do with this mess- they ENDORSED every member on this Board- you reap as you sow my friends. Have the teachers fired their incompetent union management for this? Of course not, why do they think it's going to get better?
Just a Teacher December 17, 2012 at 12:48 AM
Actually we did vote out our president and another executive board member. What I have learns is that it takes parents to get the board to make a decision. Numbers don't lie.
Just a Teacher December 17, 2012 at 12:50 AM


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »