KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Superintendent Mark Bedell was invited to speak in front of the city council January 20 after the school district became fully accredited for the first time in more than 20 years.
“You get comfortable. You get your second contract. Generally, you sign your second contract, it opens up the door for you to go elsewhere easily,” Bedell said during the meeting. “What I said, and I made a commitment was that I’m going to be here to help deliver these students and graduate them into a world that they are truly prepared for.”
Five months later, Bedell announced that he’s resigning this August. He made $282,000 this past school year, according to Kansas City Public Schools spokeswoman Elle Moxley.
“It’s not about the money,” Bedell said about his resignation Friday during a news conference. “I’m actually surrendering some of what I have and one of the best contracts in the country. It may have not been the best when I started because that’s what the media said it wasn’t, but after the board saw the work and the product, they took care of me and my contract.”
Bedell said it’s time to move on. He’s heading back to Maryland, where he’ll be the superintendent of the public school district in Annapolis.
“I lived in Anne Arundel County for four years,” Bedell said. “My children were in the school system there from 2012 to 2016, so there’s some familiarity already as a former parent of the school district, but it’s an opportunity, There’s some rural aspects to the district, suburban, and we’ve got some urban aspects to the district, so it’s a different kind of experience that I will get and just learning how to move a district like that forward just as I have here in Kansas City.”
Bedell said the average tenure of an urban Superintendent is just more than three years, and with him, the community got six.
“This is a hard job,” Bedell continued Friday. “Working in an urban school district, it’s hard. It’s a different level of stress than what you would have if you would work in a surrounding school district, and all of our school superintendent peers can attest to that.”
School board member Manny Abarca wants the city to know this decision was not something that caught them off guard.
“The city should be proud of the district and Dr. Bedell especially for what he’s done and what he’s been able to do for his team,” Abarca said Friday afternoon. “I would say probably about a year and a half ago, we all started talking about potential transition plans. What does that look like in the future? Because we know Kansas City Public Schools has had such a long tenure with issues relating to the superintendents sticking, and I think six years is our longest serving superintendent in over 50 years, and so the reality is, urban school systems have superintendents who don’t last very long, and so we knew the tenure was over.”
Dr. Jennifer Collier takes on the interim role as superintendent. She is interested in the full-time position. Collier could be in the role for all of the 2022-2023 school year.