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New KCMO Schools Chief Looking to Stay

Mark T. Bedell Committed to Ending Revolving Door

Bedell signing contract Mark T. Bedell, shown here in April 2016 signing his contract to become superintendent of Kansas City Public Schools, has made workforce development a key priority for students (MIke Sherry | Flatland)
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The average tenure of a superintendent in an urban school district is about three years, and that trend has pretty much held true in Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) for decades.

But in introducing himself to the community this morning, the school district’s newest superintendent, Mark T. Bedell, 41, said in that sense he is looking to break from tradition.

“It is my full intention to come here and to perhaps do something has not been done in a long time – to be here longer than four years. I would love to be able to do that,” he said at a news conference at Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts, 4747 Flora Ave.

He underscored his commitment to KCPS by noting his intention to enroll his three children in the district. He has kids entering kindergarten, the eighth grade, and ninth grade.

Bedell currently serves as an assistant superintendent at Baltimore County Public Schools in Towson, Maryland. Prior to that, he spent a dozen years in the Houston Independent School District as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, and school improvement officer.

He officially starts work on July 1 under a three-year contract that pays him a base salary of $225,000 a year.

In other comments, Bedell said that:

  • He intends to release a blueprint for his first 100 days after it is reviewed by the school board and his top staff, and that a priority will be developing a five-year plan for improving academic achievement.
  • Charter schools are a direct challenge to the school district and that gaining full state accreditation for the district is one key to convincing parents to stay with KCPS.
  • The district must address the social and emotional issues that some students bring to school from their home life, while at the same time not allowing students to lean on those circumstances as an excuse for poor performance – something he called “learned helplessness.”

Byron Hyde, 17, a junior at Paseo, was encouraged by Bedell’s comments about sticking with the district for the long term and about his commitment to students.

Then again, he said he would withhold judgement until his tenure unfolds.

“I can’t wait to see what happens,” Hyde said. “I don’t know if it will be good or bad for us, so that is just what we will have to wait for.”

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