Government & Politics

Kansas City Public Schools taps community to design its five-year strategic plan

Mark Bedell on Kansas City Public Schools' strategic plan

While in the past the district has had somewhat of an adversarial relationship with charter public schools, which over the last 18 years have siphoned students from the district, Superintendent Mark Bedell said he wanted charter school officials i
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While in the past the district has had somewhat of an adversarial relationship with charter public schools, which over the last 18 years have siphoned students from the district, Superintendent Mark Bedell said he wanted charter school officials i

Some Kansas City community leaders came together Tuesday to add their ideas to a five-year strategic plan being developed for Kansas City Public Schools.

About 25 community leaders joined school officials at the Kansas City Pubic Schools board offices to participate in the second stage of meetings designed to develop a plan that would guide the school district over the next five years.

When complete at the end of April it would be the first strategic plan the district has had in place since 2009.

Similar meetings open to the public are scheduled for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. tonight at Benjamin Banneker and at Central Academy. Two more public meetings will be held Wednesday at the same time at Northeast Middle and Paseo High schools.

The first meetings for the plan began in January and have involved parents, students and teachers. Subsequent meeting included religious leaders and charter school providers.

While in the past KCPS has had somewhat of an adversarial relationship with charter public schools, which over the last 18 years have siphoned students from the district, Superintendent Mark Bedell said he wanted charter school officials involved in the process.

“I’m more concerned about the educational landscape of this city than arguing between district and charter schools,” Bedell said.

The point of the strategic plan, he said, is for the full community to be involved in identifying top goals for the district, pathways for reaching them and a means for measuring implementation and maintenance of each goal.

“Everything we do in this strategic plan should be designed to help our children advance academically,” Bedell said.

The provisionally accredited district has struggled for several years to regain full state accreditation. Last year for the first time in 30 years the district scored at full accreditation levels on the state-issued report that measures progress in several performance areas, including how well students did on standardized tests.

Although district officials lobbied state education leaders to grant the district full accreditation, the state wants to see the district maintain that level of performance for at least two years before full accreditation is considered.

In the end, Bedell said he expects the new plan to help the district reach its accreditation goal and to maintain the level of overall performance it will take to get there.

This should not be a 400-page plan plunked down on a shelf to collect dust, Bedell said.

“This can not be the plan of the superintendent,” Bedell said. “It cannot be the plan of the school board. This must be a community plan.”

He said it should be a tight, doable, realistic plan with reachable goals that take the district forward no matter who is sitting in the school board chairs or the superintendent’s office.

Mará Rose Williams: 816-234-4419, @marawilliamskc

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