The selection of the next superintendent of Kansas City Public Schools now hinges on parents and the community that surround them.
Dr. Ronald Gerald Taylor and Dr. Mark T. Bedell are the two finalists chosen from a pool of more than 70 applicants. On Thursday evening, both had an opportunity to interact with the very people they hope to serve in a public forum at the Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts.
"Kansas City Public Schools to me is an ideal fit for the skill set, experiences and wisdom that I've gained throughout my career," said Taylor.
"I want to be able to come here and give some hope to inspire kids, to let them know that I lived through the exact things that they're experiencing right now," Bedell said.
Both men are experienced, touting years of experience in education. A striking similarity is strides each have made in improving performance in their current posts.
Dr. Mark T. Bedell
- Assistant Superintendent, Baltimore County Public Schools in Towson, Md.
- More than 15 years in education
- Started as a teacher
- Increasing graduation rates, decreasing suspension rates
Dr. Ronald Gerald Taylor
- Superintendent, Willingboro Township Public Schools in Willingboro, N.J.
- More than 20 years in education
- Started in early childhood education
- Meeting No Child Left Behind benchmarks
CPS School Board President Jon Hile said their feedback has overwhelmingly been "desire of people to see candidates who were committed to Kansas City, who had demonstrated innovative approaches to education, especially in an urban environment, and candidates who were willing to think outside the box to solve complex issues in education."
Some concerns were voiced at teh forum. Bedell doesn't have any experience as a superintendent, and Taylor has been a candidate in two other searches since 2013.
The search for the next KCPS superintendent began in July 2015 and the board plans to make a selection this month. Feedback from the public forum will be weighed in that decision. The new, permanent superintendent is set to begin on July 1.
Dia Wall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.