Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS)

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Kansas City Public Schools officials announced the district's new superintendent Wednesday.

Mark Bedell has been an assistant superintendent in the Baltimore County District for the past four years. He began his career in Houston.

He beat out Ron Taylor, the superintendent in the Willingboro, New Jersey, district.

Courtesy photo / Kansas City Public Schools

Kansas City Public Schools is one step closer  to picking a new superintendent.

KCPS board chairman Jon Hile says the board met behind closed doors for 90 minutes Monday and reviewed feedback from last week’s forum where the two finalists each answered questions for an hour.

Hile says to expect an announcement no later than Wednesday.

"I expect to have something more in the next 24 to 48 hours," he says.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Kansas City Public Schools didn't know what kind of crowd would come out to meet the two finalists for the top job in the district. Just how much interest would there be?

Courtesy photos

Kansas City Public Schools have reached to the East Coast for the two finalists for its top job.

Both are men, both are African American and both have urban district administrative experience.

Ronald Taylor is the superintendent in the Willingboro, New Jersey, district in the Philadelphia suburbs. Willingboro is a small district, just 4,300 students and seven schools.

Before Willingboro, Taylor also worked in Washington D.C., Boston and Newark, New Jersey.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

By next school year, dozens of students in the North Kansas City School District will finally have a somewhat safer way to walk to school.

Students who live within blocks of Maplewood Elementary School on North Freemont Avenue have been bused to school for years because the district deemed the walk too dangerous.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

For 115 years, a time capsule once stored in the cornerstone of the Thacher School in Kansas City's Historic Northeast laid dormant. But a team of historians with the Kansas City Museum opened the memento Saturday morning, finding a treasure trove of documents.

The historic school was named after Civil War major Louin Kennedy Thacher in May, 1900 and was closed by the Kansas City Public Schools in 2009. The school building was demolished last August.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Parents will soon meet the two finalists for the top job in the Kansas City Public Schools.

The district late Friday announced two forums scheduled for Jan. 14 at Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts. Each candidate will be available for an hour to the public and the media.

The names of the finalists have not been released, but both are from out of town. The district's  interim superintendent, Al Tunis, is not in the running. The district says the names will be released 48 hours before the public forums.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

The Kansas City Public School District has narrowed its list of superintendent candidates and we may find out more about the search at Wednesday's meeting.

Board Chairman Jon Hile would not say exactly how many finalists are in the running but many believe there are only two – and current interim Superintendent Al Tunis is not among them. Both candidates are believed to be from out of town.

Rendering of BNIM Crossroads headquarters
Rendering courtesy of BNIM

Opponents of tax breaks for the proposed BNIM headquarters in the Crossroads Arts District may have defeated the proposal by default. 

A committee of petitioners turned in several thousand petition signatures Tuesday afternoon. Even if they were short of the 3,400 needed to let the voters decide on the TIF plan, they likely have 10 more days to submit the rest.

But time, not how the public might vote, is the issue for the $5.2 million in tax increment financing.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Just 49 percent of third graders in Kansas City are reading proficiently.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that’s a dramatic improvement from just a few years ago, when only a third of them were reading at or above grade level. As research mounts that third grade is a benchmark for future success, literacy has become a rally cry for elected leaders and community groups trying to turn around Kansas City’s public schools.

At Garfield Elementary in the Historic Northeast, AmeriCorps volunteers meet daily with reluctant third grade readers.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

The Missouri State Board of Education acted Tuesday on two major pieces of education business in the Kansas City.

First, the Board decided to keep the Kansas City district and the Hickman Mills School District provisionally accredited. Both districts had lobbied the state hard to move up to full accreditation, but both fell below expectations on the last round the state standardized tests. Because the test and the way it was given changed from the previous year, the state had already decided to "hold harmless" districts that did not meet standards.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Kansas City Public Schools says its making plans to move its headquarters from downtown. 

Moving the district headquarters from 12th Street and McGee was something called for in the master plan released two weeks ago.

In an email sent to parents and staff, the district says its entered into a sales contract with the Nazarene Publishing House to buy several buildings at 29th and Troost.

Here's the email:

Plexpod

In recent years, Kansas City has emerged as a startup hub. Now, the metro's burgeoning tech community will soon have a centerpiece space in which to do its work. 

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

After 18 months of study Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) released its master plan Wednesday night in a long and contentious board meeting.

The plan covers which buildings will be closed, an overhaul of the transportation system, a plan for year-round class for low-performing elementary schools and the rejuvenation of high school extracurricular activities with an emphasis on sports.

The district says about 2,000 children, 15 percent of the district, would feel the change of school closing and the resulting boundary changes.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Besides the biggest celebration ever in Kansas City history, there also was an election on Tuesday.

Voters were deciding a couple of open Missouri statehouse seats, capital improvement taxes in Independence and Oak Grove, and a school board seat in Kansas City Public Schools.

At lunch time, a polling place in Brookside was completely empty, except for the poll workers. Some voters came in early, every single one with a Royals shirt on.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) is getting ready to release its master plan, and it will almost certainly call for closing some schools and possibly cutting jobs.

In a news release, the district says the goal of the master plan is to ensure that limited resources are being used as effectively as possible.

What that means is that there is a very good chance the some buildings will be closed, boundaries will be moved and that some jobs will be lost. Attrition is more likely than layoffs.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Updated 9:05 a.m. Monday:

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) representatives say school districts were given ample time to prepare for online science testing that caused big drops in annual performance points for the Hickman Mills School District.

Sarah Potter with DESE's communications department says the district had years to get students ready for the switch.

"Districts were notified in 2010 that all state assessments would go online by 2015," Potter said. "That gave districts time to direct budgets toward technology and also prepare students with 21st century computing skills. At the end of the day, it's up to districts to help students prepare for any state test."

Crossroads Academy

One of the more successful charter schools in Kansas City says it plans to open a second campus in time for the next school year.

Crossroads Academy is on Central Street just around the corner from the main branch of the Kansas City Public Library.

It opened in 2012, has doubled in size since that time and now educates about 350 students.

Executive Director Dean Johnson says the school will look for a building to buy downtown that will eventually serve about 400 students in  kindergarten through eighth grades.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

In a few weeks, Kansas City Public Schools will have a brand new and unusual educational partner.

The district expects to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Mexican Consulate in Kansas City to provide an array of services to Mexican students and their families in the district. 

About 25 percent of the district’s students are Spanish speakers and most of them have Mexican roots.

"We have children here who have come to this country at no choice of their own. This was a parent choice," says Luis Cordoba who runs the district’s Office of Student Interventions.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan stopped at Kansas City’s Woodland Early Learning Community Monday morning to advocate for high-quality preschool for low-income families.

“We have to make sure our babies are entering kindergarten ready to be successful,” Duncan said. “In education, we spend lots of time playing catch-up, and frankly we don’t often play catch-up well.”

Duncan says the average child from a disadvantaged neighborhood starts school at least a year behind. In Missouri, 80 percent of 4-year-olds don’t have access to a high quality early education program.

How important is it for kids to have teachers who look like them, or share their culture? And if they don't, can teachers be taught to teach across culture? 

Sam Zeff / KCUR

In a heated two-hour debate, the Kansas City Public Schools Board of Education voted Wednesday night to get into the charter school business.

The vote was the next step in the process for a partnership between KCPS and the Urban Neighborhood Initiative (UNI). 

Sam Zeff / KCUR

The Kansas City Public Schools board wants to get into the charter school business.

The board of education is slated to vote to move that process forward Wednesday night.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

School districts across Missouri found out Monday how they did on last year's standardized tests.

For Kansas City Public Schools and the Hickman Mills districts, both provisionally accredited by the state, the news was mixed.

Missouri changed its test so it's impossible to accurately compare scores year-to-year. However, both districts scored below 50 percent proficient or advanced in all four subjects tested —English, math, science and social studies.

Brad Wilson / Flickr-CC

When Missouri releases its standardized test scores, it’s always a tense week for some school districts.

But this year two area districts are both tense and confused.

The confusion for Kansas City Public Schools and the Hickman Mills School District comes because the state changed its standardized tests.

Both districts are provisionally accredited and hoping for full accreditation following this year’s results which will be publicly released Tuesday.

However, the state says because of the change, a year-to-year comparison would be almost useless.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Several dozen Lincoln College Preparatory Academy alumni met with a small group of current students Saturday to celebrate the historic school's 150th anniversary.

The alumni met the students at the Centennial United Methodist Church in Kansas City's 18th and Vine District to show their support and talk about how the school influenced their lives.  

Courtesy photo / KCPS

Kansas City Public Schools has reached inside the district for an interim superintendent to fill the shoes of outgoing Stephen Green.

The school board Wednesday night tapped Chief Financial Officer Al Tunis as interim head of the 15,000-student district.

Green is set to leave the district in a few weeks to go to Georgia. Green spoke with KCUR's Steve Kraske last week about his departure on Up To Date.

An update on plans to repurpose about 30 vacated schools in Kansas City. Plus, the challenges, joys, and enduring impact of finding new uses for buildings that have outlived their intended functions. The transformation of gas stations, old theaters, churches and post offices.

Esther Honig / KCUR

It was a tearful, dramatic day five years ago, when the school board of Kansas City Public Schools decided to close 21 buildings in order to adjust to a shrinking student population. That was in addition to nine previously closed schools, leaving the district with 30 surplus buildings.  

Kansas City Public Schools


Stephen Green became interim superintendent of the Kansas City Public School District in September 2011, then superintendent in April 2012.

Nearly four years later, his time in Kansas City has ended. Green recently announced that he is leaving the district to be closer to his children and grandchildren in the Atlanta area. He will lead the Dekalb School District starting this year.

Green has led the district through the loss of accreditation and the threat of a state takeover. He has brought stability back to the district with his focus on curriculum, instruction and student achievement.

Green spoke with Up To Date host Steve Kraske about the struggles the district faced under his tenure, how it has rebuilt, and how it will successfully transition and regain accreditation.

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