Wake County School Board names Dr. Robert Taylor as new superintendent

Wednesday, July 19, 2023
Wake Schools names new superintendent
Dr. Robert Taylor has deep ties to North Carolina's public education system.

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Wake County Public School System has a new superintendent with strong ties to North Carolina's education landscape.

On Tuesday night, North Carolina's largest school district named Dr. Robert P. Taylor as its new leader. Taylor will start his new position on Oct. 1.

Catty Moore retired on July 1 and an interim superintendent has been running the Wake County school district.

Dr. Robert Taylor

"On behalf of the Wake County Board of Education, I am pleased to announce the appointment of our new superintendent, Dr. Taylor," said Lindsay Mahaffey, chair of the Wake County Board of Education. "Following a national search, Dr. Taylor emerged as the top candidate, demonstrating a wealth of experience, a proven track record in educational leadership, and a deep commitment to student success."

One board member voted against Taylor's hiring because of his salary. He will make $326,993 annually, an increase from the $300,000 he made in Mississippi.

In all, 28 people applied for the job. The applications came from 13 states and territories. The school board said Taylor was chosen for the "breadth of knowledge" gained during a 30-year career in public education.

Taylor, a Mississippi native, was most recently the state superintendent of the Mississippi State Board of Education. But he does have North Carolina ties, having spent two years as a deputy state superintendent for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction before moving back to Mississippi.

"The Wake County Public School System stands at the forefront of innovative education, and I welcome the opportunity to provide the leadership that continues this work provided by all of its high-quality educators," Taylor said. "My family and I are honored to be a part of this community and look forward to being a part of its continued growth and expansion."

Taylor has particularly strong connections to the Sandhills.

He worked as superintendent of Bladen County Schools for nearly a decade. He was named 2017 Sandhills RESA Superintendent of the Year and in 2018 was named NCAAHPERD Superintendent of the Year for his work in school nutrition, health, and physical education.

Before joining Bladen County, Taylor worked at Cumberland County Schools as a middle-school teacher, assistant principal, and principal. He later served as assistant superintendent for administrative services in Clinton City Schools.

Taylor received his bachelor's degree in history and political science from the University of Southern Mississippi and later obtained a master's degree in school administration and a doctorate in educational leadership from Fayetteville State University.

He has served as an advisor to the schools of education at UNC Pembroke and Fayetteville State.

Catty Moore retired on July 1 and an interim superintendent is currently running the Wake County School District.

Earlier Tuesday, ABC11 spoke with interim WCPSS interim superintendent Dr. Randy Bridges.

Bridges officially started his three-month contract on July 1, days before year-round WCPSS students returned to the classroom for the next school year.

Speaking on the challenges the district is facing and those the incoming superintendent will have to tackle, Bridges said that it's not his intent to make a lot of changes during his brief tenure that would put the district in a "vulnerable" place.

"We want to be solid with the things Superintendent Moore put in place, maybe tweak some things here and there, and when the incoming superintendent comes on board then he or she can decide if a different direction is needed," Bridges said.

His comments come as last year, WCPSS struggled with bus driver shortages, other staffing challenges, school threats, and lockdowns.

Per rules, WCPSS was required to have a superintendent in place as of July 1.

"If you drop the word interim and just said superintendent, you still have to make those kinds of decisions that need to be made," said Bridges. "Keeping in mind that a lot of this is to make sure we are doing the things that Superintendent Moore and the Board had set in motion and allow the incoming superintendent to do an evaluation of that and determine whether or not there need to be some changes made."

This includes the aforementioned items and the board's ambitious 2023-2028 Strategic Plan, which focuses on high-quality instructional content, high-quality staff, equitable outcomes, and engagement with Wake County families and the community.

Board members and WCPSS were tight-lipped about the announcement ahead of the official notice.

Bridges plans to continue in his role until Taylor's contract officially begins on Oct. 1.

"I don't think there should be worry at all," Bridges said, speaking of parents thinking of the next Wake Schools leader. "I think it's part of my role to understand that I'm in a transition period. And the worst thing that I could do would be to start July 1 and start changing a lot of things. And then when the permanent superintendent comes, that person's changing things again. So it's up, it's my responsibility to make sure that that doesn't happen."

The district's 198 schools and 20,000 employees and 159,000 students need a leader who can help them keep up with the demand from a community that's also welcoming more businesses that require skilled workers. The incoming superintendent must live in Wake County.

Taylor is married to retired Col. Vivian L. Taylor. They have three children, Jalyn, a VCU graduate, Army soldier and Texas law enforcement officer; Mia, a recent graduate of Western Carolina University; and Miles, a junior at Fayetteville State.

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