Change at the top for Decatur School Board

Posted by August 23, 2013

City_Schools_of_Decatur_LogoCandidates will qualify for Decatur elections next week, but we already know who’s not running. City of Decatur Schools Board of Education Chairman Marc Wisniewski and former Chairwoman Valarie Wilson say they won’t seek re-election.

That means starting in January the board will have to make some big decisions without its two most experienced members (each with more than 10 years of service).

Getting a handle on enrollment and building or renovating facilities are the two main challenges.

Of course, all that experience didn’t help Monday when the Decatur City Commission shot down the board’s plan to put a $59 million bond referendum for school construction on the Nov. 5 ballot. It now looks like the referendum will be held in November 2014.

Who will become the school board chairman? Bernadette Seals, the current vice chairwoman, and Julie Rhame are now the senior members. Garrett Goebel joined the board in 2012.

The race for Wisniewski’s seat should be contested. Lewis Jones and C. Mark Arnold both say they’ll run.

Jones is a lawyer with King and Spalding in Atlanta and chairman of the Renfroe Middle school leadership team (STL). He has five kids in the school system. His webpage says he wants to strengthen SLTs, improve community outreach, promote arts and music and establish value-added performance standards.

Arnold is a partner with Red Clay Capital Holdings. He has two kids in the Decatur school system and served on the Renfroe SLT. His website says the main challenges facing the school system are enrollment growth, erosion of funding, an imbalanced tax digest and improving facilities.

Lawyer Annie Caiola announced for Wilson’s seat. Seals said she’ll seek re-election and has no announced opposition.

There’s also an election for two Decatur City Commission seats on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Commission incumbents Fred Boykin and Patti Garrett both say they’ll seek re-election. The established candidates usually run unopposed.

Candidates will qualify to run from 8:30 a.m. Monday until 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at Decatur City Hall.

By the way, it’s cheaper to run for the school board, with those candidates paying a qualifying fee of $35, compared to $144 for a city commission candidate.


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