"Through my business, legal and community experience, I've learned that listening first is crucial to address complex challenges. Providing a strong board leadership base is essential to empower professional educators to innovate and create partnerships across traditional divides."
People in healthy communities care about each other's kids. I believe that public, charter, independent and faith-based schools all play important roles in ensuring that every child achieves their potential. The success and stability of KCPS is crucial to that vision.
Every KCPS student should receive a quality education. KCPS must not only have effective system administration but must foster a culture where every school raises their level of achievement. Among the priorities that are important for achievement I'm focused on the following :
1. Reaching and maintaining full accreditation, including use of innovative strategies directed at closing achievement gaps, particularly in elementary grades.
2. Improving student attendance, particularly at the high school level. Adopting new strategies that have been successful in similar districts or innovating non-traditional approaches specific to KCPS.
3. Implementing strategies that result in improved academic achievement for schools with high student turnover. Examples of such strategies exist within KCPS and need to be applied and adapted by other schools within the system.
4. Improving college, career and life outcomes for KCPS graduates. Gathering data on student outcomes including feedback from colleges and employers, reviewing curricula and exploring other preparation strategies, such as expanded partnerships with local businesses and trade organizations, including development of a technology career path.
5. Ensuring sufficient and equitable public-school funding. The state legislative agenda can be advanced by improving relationships across political and geographic boundaries. This work must be ongoing in every political climate. Beyond the pursuit of equitable state funding, KCPS must continue to seek other avenues of revenue to expand successful programs and address its substantial backlog of deferred maintenance. The district should develop a more effective partnership with the City of Kansas City MO regarding tax incentives and economic development.
6. Expanding partnerships with charter schools. The Board can and should support the superintendent to explore how KCPS can lead and partner with high-performing charters to increase stability for KCPS and Kansas City families. The increases in younger student charter enrollment create the imperative to think broadly.
The KCPS Board must provide the base for empowering school leaders. Under the leadership of Superintendent Dr. Mark Bedell, building on the efforts of his recent predecessors, the District is on a positive trajectory toward full accreditation and setting its sights for greater student achievement.
Accreditation Is Just the Beginning
KCPS needs to reach and maintain full accreditation, then point student achievement much higher. The performance trend has been positive over the last several years, but the district needs to demonstrate continued achievement in 2019 and 2020 to compel DESE and State Board of Education to reinstate full KCPS accreditation. Among key elements are the following:
1. Sustaining the areas of improvement including the four-year graduation rate, state science tests, and post-secondary placement (college, career or military enlistment within 6 months of graduation).
2. Exploring and implementing additional strategies to improve student attendance, including working with parents and other adults who influence student attendance.
3. Partnering across the community to better manage continuity for students experiencing family relocation and movement between charters and KCPS.
4. Developing strategies to improve student retention of material in social studies and science.
Three decades of successful leadership in Kansas City have prepared me for this challenge. My business, legal and community experience enable me to support KCPS to better connect with corporate and civic leaders in strategic partnerships that serve all students.