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ELECTION 2013: City Schools of Decatur, District 1, Post A
by LaTria Garnigan
October 08, 2013 05:23 PM | 1602 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mark Arnold
Mark Arnold
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Lewis B. Jones
Lewis B. Jones
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With the Nov. 5 general municipal election getting closer, the Neighbor asked candidates why they are seeking election and what they hope to accomplish.

Below are responses from the two candidates for the City Schools of Decatur District 1 Post A seat.

Colin Mark Arnold, 49
Occupation: Investment management
Residency: 14 years

Why did you decide to run for this post?
“Two trends are converging upon City Schools of Decatur right now — increasing student enrollment and decreasing state and federal support for public schools. So it has never been more important for our school system to navigate the financial complexities of public education. To do that, Decatur’s school board must provide the oversight needed to ensure that our quality of education continues to improve, while our stewardship of taxpayer dollars remains strong.

“As a candidate for the Decatur school board, I bring 25 years of professional experience in financial management to the board and more than 10 years of volunteer service to Decatur’s schools and community.

“In this period of growing enrollment and declining funding, I believe that expertise in financial management will be an important element for giving our community’s kids an education that prepares them to continue their learning.”

What are your top goals you would like to accomplish if elected?
“Continued focus on student achievement. Decatur has great schools and we should continue to invest in making our schools even better. As a board member, I would use my financial background to seek ways to fund continued improvements in curriculum, foreign language proficiency, International Baccalaureate and student organizations ­ — orchestra, robotics, debate — that help develop the entire child.

“It is important to first look for ways that money is being wasted, mismanaged or budgeted inefficiently. Therefore, the annual budget process should scrutinize all non-classroom related expenditures to identify potential savings. Existing bond indebtedness and leases should be evaluated for opportunities to reduce debt service cost by refinancing. In addition, the board of education and city commission should explore non-tax based approaches to raising additional revenue.

Improved communication and collaboration between the city commission and school board.

To develop and enhance an atmosphere of team work, I support an annual strategic retreat for the city and school leadership. Recognizing that a retreat is a one-time event and that ongoing communication will be necessary — I also propose the formation of a city/school committee. This committee would be comprised of two members each from the school and city leadership who would meet bi-monthly to ensure continued information exchange, dialogue and collaboration.

Where would you like to see the school district in 10 years?
“A school system nationally recognized for preparing students with the knowledge and skills required for the workplace of the future.”

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Lewis B. Jones, 45
Occupation: Lawyer
Residency: 15 years

Why did you decide to run for this post?
“My wife Tamara and I have five kids in the city schools and I am currently chair of the School Leadership Team at Renfroe Middle School. I am excited about our schools, and our city and I want to serve on the board to continue the progress we’ve made in recent years. To reach our full potential, it is important the board take a critical look at our strengths and weaknesses and set standards to drive progress in areas that need improvement.”

What are your top goals you would like to accomplish if elected?
“I want to, 1, collaborate with the city commission to develop a plan to accommodate expanding enrollment while minimizing taxes and preserving diversity, 2, continue to raise the bar on student achievement, especially in the STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering and math and 3, strengthen the school leadership teams.”

Where would you like to see the school district in 10 years?
“I want City Schools of Decatur to be a place where every child is happy and challenged and where we offer top-flight academics while also building character and developing the whole child through arts, music and athletics.

“We are well on our way to achieving this goal if we can manage the challenges brought by success.

“Ten years from now, I hope to report that we are still a diverse community, that we still consider our schools to be the backbone of the community and that our students’ education is second to none.”
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