One year down, many to go: KCPS Superintendent Mark Bedell rates his first year

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - It was March 2016 when 41 Action News traveled to Baltimore to meet the new Kansas City Public Schools superintendent, Dr. Mark Bedell.

He had never been a superintendent before but had a resume that began in the classroom. Bedell went from a teacher to a principal to an assistant superintendent, with a track record of lowering dropout rates and increasing graduation rates. He shared what happened moments after he signed the contract with KCPS. "I came home to my wife and said, 'I have no idea what I've just signed us into,'" Bedell shared.

We asked what advice he would give to himself before he started the job back in July.

"You have to understand that while you want to plant seeds in the morning and cut grass in the afternoon that, you need to temper your expectations," he said. "I just hope that I'm going to be able to do this job at a high level and give these kids what they deserve."

There were four major areas Dr. Bedell wanted to impact when he took the job. We asked him to grade himself on his performance in those areas.

Accreditation: C

"Given what I know now, I would probably say a C in that area. I think we still have work to do. Accreditation wasn't even going to be possible in this year anyhow. You have to demonstrate multiple years of getting your APR points."

Recognizing talent and promoting from within: B

"I'd probably say a B. We only have 28 teacher vacancies. Last year when I started, we were close to 70."

Bedell noted that close to 70 percent of principals in the district were hired internally as well. 

Launching a mentoring program: C

"I'm going to say a C and the reason why I say a C is because this will be our first official year doing that, like the full blown mentoring program."

An assistant superintendent is dedicated to oversee the program that will launch in the fall and the coordinator for that program starts in June.

Relationship building with parents and kids: A

"A. I feel like I've nailed that. I've done the brown bag lunches with students. I've done student town hall meetings. I've been very accessible to parents. I've been out in the community."

When it comes to year two for Dr. Bedell he said, "I will tell you I'm probably more excited, more excited because of what I know now. I just feel like it's going to be an explosive year and that's just the truth."

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