Anne Arundel County school board frustrated over decision to cancel morning clubs, but future uncertain

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While several members of the Anne Arundel Board of Education voiced concern about the decision to eliminate before-school clubs, it isn’t clear if the action the board took at its Thursday meeting will change plans for next school year that are already in motion.

The board discussed a flood of concerns that have come in from parents who are upset that long-running morning extracurriculars at some schools will be canceled next school year as the system shifts to new start times. The 2022-2023 school year start times, which were released Friday, show high schools opening at 8:30 a.m., most elementary schools opening at 8 a.m. and middle schools opening at 9:15 a.m.


Defending the club decision, schools spokesman Bob Mosier said it would be counterintuitive for the system to move start times later and then schedule extracurricular activities before school, requiring participants to come in earlier.

However, the board voted 7-1 to approve a motion submitted by school board member Michelle Corkadel calling for some action.


The motion stated “That the administration take all reasonable actions to ensure that all extracurricular and academic support programs are not adversely impacted by the changes to the school hours for the 2022-2023 school year and the board remains committed to support these efforts.”

Robert Silkworth was the only vote against the measure.

Mosier said after the meeting the administration will need to discuss the motion to determine its practical effect.

Superintendent George Arlotto, whose contract with the system ends this month, elaborated Thursday about the need for the start time change and other ancillary adjustments that go with it.

“We want to stay true to the science that this board has stood behind,” Arlotto said. “We over-schedule our children … they need healthier school hours.”

To try to minimize the impact of the before-school club decision, Mosier said they will have principals work to build those before-school activities into the school day or after school.

Board member Dana Schallheim said she was frustrated and angry with the club decision, saying flexible time during the day is used for homework help, and officials are forcing students to unnecessarily choose between activities and academics.


“I’m failing to understand how we’re not utilizing the perfectly-usable time before school at the middle school levels to give students the opportunities they have been afforded up until now,” Schallheim said.

Corkadel, who has discussed in the past the importance of staying out of the operational lane Arlotto works in, said it was the board’s obligation to make sure operations are equitable.

The board told Arlotto to implement healthier start times and gave him guidelines, but deciding how to do so was left up to him and his administration as part of their role in running schools, Corkadel said. And so the move to cancel before-school clubs as part of this initiative was made as an interpretation of the board’s directive.

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Corkadel said based on the concerns she has heard from the community, she does not think that the interpretation is equitable.

Before-school clubs are “giving people opportunities, and when we shut doors of opportunities and claim on the other side we are trying to close gaps, that is in our lane,” Corkadel said.


Since Arlotto’s contract is over at the end of June, implementation of the early start times will fall to his replacement Mark Bedell, whose appointment was unanimously approved by the school board Friday.

Bedell returns to Maryland after six years as the superintendent of Kansas City Public Schools. Previously, he worked for Houston Independent School District and Baltimore County Public Schools before being hired to lead the Kansas City system. He is a former Anne Arundel County resident.

Bedell, who will earn $305,000 annually, will take over operations in August. An acting superintendent still needs to be named for July.