State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson has appointed Kent Taylor–himself a graduate of Inglewood High School–as state administrator over the financially troubled Inglewood Unified School District.
“My top priority is to keep Inglewood’s schools open and serving its students, while returning the district to fiscal solvency, and ultimately, local control,” Torlakson said. “Kent Taylor is the right choice for this tough, but critically important job. He has deep roots in the Inglewood community, and a proven track record as a leader and sound fiscal manager.”
Taylor, who currently serves as superintendent of the Southern Kern Unified School District, brings two decades of experience working in California’s public schools to his new assignment. He has worked as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, and other administrative assignments in San Bernardino, Yucaipa, San Jacinto, and Rialto before being named superintendent in 2011.
“It’s an honor to come home to Inglewood and serve a community and a school system that have meant so much to me,” Taylor said. “I look forward to the opportunity to address the many challenges we face and working to give every Inglewood student the same opportunity to succeed that I enjoyed.”
Taylor earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Riverside; his teaching credential at the University of La Verne; and masters of education degree at California State University, San Bernardino. He served 12 years as a school board member at Colton Unified School District. Taylor has also been awarded for exemplary service as an educator and is a member of several professional education associations, including the California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators, and the Association of California School Administrators.
“We are not very familiar with (Taylor), but we are waiting to see what kind of moves will be made as he steps into position,” said Christopher Graeber, field representative for the California Professional Employees union. “We are pleased that he has no ties to former administration, because that was one of our worries going into this appointment. Really we are just hoping that he is open and willing to work with the unions as far as negotiations and other issues go and we hope that he is in the position to bring some good resources into the district. We have requested a meeting with him this week, so hopefully soon we will see the reality what the future will hold. The new appointment will be an ongoing situation that will take getting used to, but overall we are pleased that the move has been made because the board and the district were seriously under crisis.”
The state took over the district last month, when, at the district’s request, Gov. Brown approved legislation that would provide up to $55 million in emergency loans to help the district meet its financial obligations. The loan must be repaid within 20 years.
The legislation required the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to assume all the legal rights, duties, and powers of the governing board of the district and appoint a state administrator. By law, the school district’s elected governing board serves only in an advisory capacity until a number of conditions are met.
The superintendent’s authority continues until the district has adequate fiscal systems and controls in place, and the superintendent has determined that the district’s future compliance with the fiscal plan approved for the district is probable. The recovery plan also includes steps to improve the district’s community relations and governance, pupil achievement, financial management, personnel management, and facilities management.
Inglewood Unified School District is the ninth school district in California to request an emergency loan, thus triggering the state takeover, since 1990. Since then, local governance has been returned to five districts. For more information, please visit the California Department of Education’s State Emergency Loans-Fiscal Status Web page.