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Education

After appointment as Anne Arundel schools superintendent, Bedell stresses education as ‘pathway to economic prosperity’

The Board of Education of Anne Arundel County unanimously appointed Mark Bedell to the position of superintendent Friday during a special meeting where he was introduced to school and county leaders.

Bedell told officials a little more about himself. He started by thanking his family — three children and wife Robyn — for the sacrifices they have made to allow him to pursue his dreams.

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He said he is one of eight siblings, born when his mother was 16. He has experienced trauma and neglect, and when he talks to students he tells them education is what can help them overcome anything.

“Education is the pathway to economic prosperity,” Bedell said.

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Bedell said he wants the school district of more than 83,000 students to be one of the best in the country.

To connect with students, Bedell said he plans to go to athletic events, host meetings with small groups at schools and hold assemblies as superintendent.

When he shares his experiences with students, Bedell says he encourages them not to use their life circumstances as a crutch. No matter what, students should come to school and put in their best effort. And as paid employees, it is up to educators to find the “gift” in every kid.

“I think the biggest key to being successful with students who may be on the brink of checking out is to show them your own vulnerabilities,” he said.

When it comes to the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, legislation passed in 2021 that will increase education funding in the state by $3.8 billion over 10 years, Bedell said he is excited for the expansion of early childhood education, which will ensure more students have a foundation in reading and math to build on.

“If you don’t have universal early childhood then that means some kids are getting left out,” he said.

Bedell has a doctorate in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Fisk University, where he also played basketball, and has a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration from Tennessee State University.

Several politicians also attended Friday’s contract approval and signing event at Anne Arundel County Public Schools headquarters in Annapolis, including County Executive Steuart Pittman, Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley and Del. Mike Rogers.

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The system announced last week that Bedell was the board’s top choice for the position. A Rochester, New York native, Bedell has spent the past six years as superintendent of Kansas City Public Schools, and before that he was an administrator in Baltimore County Public Schools.

Bedell’s term starts July 1 and ends June 30, 2026, according to the newly approved contract. In a letter to the Kansas City community shared last week, Bedell said his resignation from the Missouri district will be effective August 5.

Bedell’s salary will start at $305,000 annually. Bedell’s contract says the board will contribute $22,000 annually to a retirement plan, and can contribute another $10,000 annually after evaluation. He will also receive $850 each month to cover the cost of a vehicle, maintenance and gasoline.

The terms are similar to those of George Arlotto, who is leaving the district at the end of this month after eight years as superintendent.

Arlotto’s 2018 contract started at $269,000 annually, plus $20,000 toward retirement plans and the same $10,000 option. He also received $750 each month to cover the cost of a vehicle and related expenses.

An acting superintendent will serve between July 1 and August 8 as Bedell changes jobs, AACPS said in a media release Friday.

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