WVUSD Discuss Potential Bond Measure With Community

Last public site tours slated for Aug. 9

By Kelli Gile  

Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor welcome residents to informational meeting on July 7.

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile
Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor welcome residents to informational meeting on July 7.

Walnut – Walnut Valley Unified School District kept its promise to begin an open conversation with community members during an informational meeting held on July 7.

Officials shared their vision for a potential school bond that is being considered for the November ballot.

In return, the Diamond Bar and Walnut residents were encouraged to ask questions and give input during the two-hour meeting held at the Ron Hockwalt Academies in Walnut.
“Communication is key – that’s why we’re here tonight,” said Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor, who hosted the meeting.

At the time of the gathering, the Board of Trustees hadn’t taken action to put a measure on the ballot, but the District chief said they would within the next month.

“The school funding doesn’t pay for construction,” explained Board President Helen Hall.

“We have to go out to the community for local funding to keep our facilities and classrooms up-to-date. Here we are coming to the community asking for your support.”

Dr. Taylor emphasized that the District will be transparent and specific with expenditure plans for this general obligation bond.

Walnut Valley schools are known for academic excellence and are among the highest performing in the state.

Improving outdated facilities will maintain the highest levels of student achievement and ensure that all students are prepared for the future with 21st-century skills in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM).

Mike Hodson, assistant superintendent of business services, presented a comprehensive outline of the District’s revenue, including the Local Control Funding Formula that provides school districts with the bulk of their funding each year.

“Historically, Walnut Valley continues to be one of the lowest funded districts, ranking at 20th out of 21 neighboring districts,” Hodson commented.

A draft list of projects for every school was on display and residents got a close-up look at the details during a gallery walk.

School teachers, staff, parents, and community members provided items on the lists that totaled over $300 million, Taylor said.

The District also received hundreds of responses from a parent survey conducted in April to identify needs and priorities for its nearly 14,600 students at the 15 campuses.

Dr. Taylor told the audience that the list would be narrowed to a manageable number and a funding structure the community will be comfortable with before the Board moves forward.

“We want to make sure we have open communication with several local groups, including the Mt. SAC Task Force and United Walnut Taxpayers.

“Anything we can do to work a partnership with our community to meet the needs of our kids,” Dr. Taylor added.

Two members United Walnut Taxpayers praised the District’s efforts after the meeting.

“I thought the meeting was very good – we’ve been asking for transparency,” said Layla Abou-Taleb. “We are very happy.”

“Mt. SAC could learn a lot at this stage in the process of informing the community and conducting outreach for a future bond from Walnut Valley and Dr. Taylor,” added Mansfield Collins.

WVUSD plans to host additional meetings and site visits for interested groups in the coming weeks.

Site tours were held on August 1 at 8:30 a.m. and August 4 at 1:00 p.m. The last tour is slated for August 9 at 3:30 p.m. The tour will depart from the District Education Center located at 880 S. Lemon Avenue in Walnut. Please contact Linda Armes at (909) 595-1261 ext. 31296 for reservations.

The informational meeting presentation and draft project list is also available on the District’s website at http://www.wvusd.k12.ca.us.