New superintendent answers questions from reporters - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

New superintendent answers questions from reporters

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

For the first time since he was appointed, Richmond's new superintendent, Dr. Dana Bedden, answered questions from reporters.  Sunday night, the school board voted unanimously to bring in Bedden. He is expected to start the new job next month.

During a phone interview, Bedden says hopes people don't think he is going to come in and walk on water because there needs to be a system-wide culture change in RPS. To him, that includes both short term triage and long term cures.

"Each challenge is an opportunity but I also see the potential to be a part of something great," he explained.

Dr. Dana Bedden tells reporters he has lofty goals when joining Richmond Public Schools. We asked him one of the first questions on parents' minds: How can the system fix test scores and accreditation numbers that have been described as dismal? He cited looking into assessments, instruction and personnel.

"My first thought is students first and that means above and beyond them," Bedden added. "No adult will supersede what I believe and what we believe is what we need to do for our children because that's the mandate we've been given."

Dr. Bedden has a long history in education. He's already served as superintendent in two other school districts, but has been out of a job since July when he resigned from the Irving, Texas, administration.

His time there ended on a contentious note. A Dallas newspaper reports Bedden was forced to resign this summer after a newly-elected school board wanted to take "a different philosophical direction for the district."

The Augusta Chronicle, the paper in Georgia where he worked before Irving, reports the new board members blamed him for "overspending, low morale, and dissatisfaction with his expansion of the Spanish instruction and overall curriculum."

According to school board members here in Richmond, to some, those changes were seen as progressive and Bedden was also known for making tough financial decisions and improving academic performance.

"His experience, his history of turning school divisions around, doing the hard work that has to be done here in Richmond, he's got a demonstrated track record of being able to do that in districts that are very similar to Richmond," School Board Chairman Jeff Bourne said.

An exact start date has not been determined, but we're told Bedden will be here sometime in January. That is also when the school board and new superintendent are supposed to begin budget discussions.

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