Mark Arnold Announces Candidacy for Decatur School Board, District 1

Mark Arnold writes in announcing his candidacy for Decatur School Board, District 1, Post A, currently held by Board Chair Marc Wisniewski, who has already announced he will not run for re-election.  You can learn more about and keep up-to-date with Mr. Arnold’s campaign and positions on his Facebook page and his website.

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 Decatur School Board, I bring a history of expertise and leadership in financial management and a passion for giving our community’s kids an education that prepares them to continue their learning. I’m asking for your support to continue the Decatur success story.

37 thoughts on “Mark Arnold Announces Candidacy for Decatur School Board, District 1”


  1. I’d really love to see some more specific information. What credentials does Mr. Arnold have, what are his views on specific issues? I’m sure that a lot of people are familiar with him personally, but I’m not, and I don’t see anything here that isn’t really vague.

    The family portrait is really beautiful. I’d love some solid info to accompanying it.

      1. For those like me who have resisted FB (all 3 or 4 of us), you can clink on the “About” link without having joined FB or logging on. Who knew?

    1. Mark Arnold is an executive with proven background in finance, strategy, entrepreneurship, business and corporate development, and project management. He is a Bi-lingual and bi-cultural leader with broad domestic and international experience. His areas of expertise include:
      Financial management, Mergers and acquisitions, Corporate & Business development, Strategic analysis and planning, Entrepreneurship, Negotiation
      Crisis management and communication, Structuring, execution, and diligence, Project management, Business process reengineering, Vendor management, Corporate governance

      During his career Mr. Arnold has held leadership and management positions in a number of organizations: Gray Line of Tennessee (Vice President of Operations), Nuestro Banco (Founder & Chairman), BellSouth Corporation (Executive Director Corporate Development), Banc of America Securities, SunTrust Equitable Securities, General Electric Company, and McKinsey & Co.

      Education Info Grad School: Northwestern University
      College: Brown University

  2. I don’t think his credentials and views are any more vague than the other candidates’ were in their initial statements; after all, he’s just announced his candidacy. If he’s an educated, informed, concerned resident of Decatur (all of which he appears to be), then those are the creds he needs. I for one am glad that a person of color is running for a public office slot here–IMHO, there’s nothing worse for a system’s leadership than homogeneity (which would not be truly representative of our city or its schools).

    Mr. Arnold, welcome to the slate of candidates. I look forward to learning more about your platform!

    1. Re: credentials, the other candidates have kids in the system and have illustrated their active roles with CSD committees, programs, etc. Not that either is a necessity, but I would like to know (a) if Mark’s children attend CSD and (ii) his level of involvement (SLTs, etc.). Again, these aren’t requirements per se (well, maybe the former is, at least to me), but I would like to know. The lack of direct involvement with CSD programs may even have some benefit. But, I agree with WB that his resume re: his career and education is impressive.

      But, when it boils down to it, I have some pretty strong ideas about the direction of CSD, and I want to hear those of each candidate.

      1. A careful read of my post (particularly the last sentence) should tell you that our positions on Mr. Arnold’s views aren’t mutually exclusive, Dawg.

        1. My post wasn’t intended to contradict yours. It just seemed like an appropriate place to articulate some things I would like to know about Mr. Arnold.

      2. Mark Arnold has two children in the CSD system, and the family has been very active in school events at Glennwood, Clairemont and the 4/5 Academy.

        1. You shouldn’t have to have kids in the system to run for school board or feel the need to promote an educated, civic minded populace. To make someone’s parent status a condition is absurd.

  3. Can someone who’s following these races do a summary post of who’s stepping down and the various candidates that have thrown their hat in the ring for each seat? I’ve lost track. Thanks.

    1. CSD side: Marc Wisniewski (district 1) and Valarie Wilson (at large) are stepping down. Lewis Jones and Mark Arnold have declared for District 1 and Annie Caiola has declared for the at-large seat. I think Bernadette Seals is up for reelection is district 2 and is currently running unopposed.

      City side: Fred Boykin (district 1) andPatti Garrett (district 2) I think are both up again and currently unopposed.

    2. This is my best attempt but would love to be corrected by those who know more:

      At large: Valerie Wilson announced that she is stepping down. Annie CIaioli (I may have a misplaced vowel in there) has announced her candidacy.

      District 1, aka Northside: Mark Wisniewski announced he is stepping down. Lewis Jones announced his candidacy a few weeks ago and now Mark Arnold is announcing for the same spot.

      District 2, aka Southside: Bernadette Seals has the seat and I haven’t heard that she is stepping down or that anyone else is running.

      Anyone running has to register as a candidate sometime during a 3-day period in late August. So others may still be planning to register. A formal announcement, like we’ve gotten from Annie, Lewis, and Mark, is not required but I guess it’s counterproductive to run if no one knows you’re running. Unless you have no opposition. Then you probably can win as long as you vote for yourself.

  4. Is there really a decreasing state and federal support for public schools or is there just not the increase in support that many would like to see?

    1. “Is there really a decreasing state and federal support for public schools” – yes. Decreasing support but increased meddling. BTW – support is either decreasing, increasing, or static, right? So if it’s not increasing, then it’s either decreasing or staying the same. And it sure ain’t the same as it used to be.

      1. I, for one, would like to see a dramatic decresae in federal and state dollars along with an equal increase in local taxes. It would/should mean a wash to me financially (well, at least in the long term – most of those federal dollars are being borrowed) but we would regain local control over education. All of these federal and state dollars come with lots of strings.

        1. “I, for one, would like to see a dramatic decresae in federal and state dollars”

          I was with you this far!

      2. I see from your comments that you believe it’s either decreasing or static, but I’m actually wondering what the facts are and where I might find them. As I’m looking, I’ve seen things that say Georgia’s overall budget rose 4.6% last year with the majority of the increase going to health care and education and at the same time additional lottery funds are going to restore pre-K program to 180 days and is boosting money for HOPE scholarships and grants.

        Anyone know of any easy way to see the facts?

        1. Here is one report (below) of a roughly 15% decrease in state funding of education in Georgia between FY08 and FY13. I would be surprised if federal funding had not also decreased significantly over the same time. I also agree that the decreased funding yet “increased meddling” observation is more than fair.

          http://www.cbpp.org/files/9-4-12sfp.pdf

          1. Cool. That’s some good info. It was interesting that their only specific comment about Georgia, other than the graph which is not good news, was about the 180 days being cut to 160 and now since that report it has gone back up to 180. Be nice if that was an indication that the trend was starting to go back the other way, but it hasn’t yet made up for the longer term decline.

            1. Many rural GA school districts have sought and obtained waivers from the required days in school, so that 160 is tops at best for some of those districts. Those schools are going 4 days a week only, w/ shorter calendars that most districts. The state of public education in GA is very depressing, more so the further you get from Metro Atlanta. It is worse in those areas because the local tax base just isn’t there and not nearly as strong as it is in the MetroA– so shifting everything to local only isn’t going to help statewide.

              1. By “shifting everything” above I meant to say “by shifting the funding source to the local level/local taxation” isn’t a solution for many parts of the state.

              2. You may remember better than I, but didn’t Georgia recently lose some federal money due to some genius politicking by the state level folks?

        2. Go to the Georgia Policy and Budget Institute (gpbi dot org), go to their education heading, and there are several reports there that show the decrease in state budget funding (and increasing federal AND state mandates). They also show a slow growth of state budget funds in a positive direction towards education (now halfof the 2013 budget!), but that is really only getting us back towards (not yet near) where we used to be in the early 2000s in terms of dollars per child from state funds. Note that some of the increase in funding shown on a chart for 2013 is due to an accounting change rather than more “real” money- but not being a CPA, I don’t really understand the impacts of that exactly.

          Yes, GPBI may have a liberal slant, but they show the sources for all their info, so with those references you can easily find original source material for yourself if you like.

  5. If I am remembering correctly, Mark Arnold ran against John Ahmann in ~2003, and lost. I cannot find his old website but my memory is that Mark was for closing some elementary schools and doing some kind of partner program, e.g. Winnona Park preK-2 with Glennwood 3-5 and Westchester prek-2 with Oakhurst 3-5. John Ahmann won and the School Board voted to close elementary schools and go to a 0-preK, K-3, 4/5 model. Apologize if my memory is faulty. I may have mixed up some of the Wilson/Monroe election campaign platforms with the Arnold/Ahmann election. Issues are all very different now.

    1. Thanks AHD. Mr. Arnold actually came to my house seeking my vote when he ran against Mr. Ahmann in 2003. It was the Sunday before the election and I was enjoying a cold Coke Cola on the patio with a neighbor who was also a teacher at Oakhurst at the time. We were having a great conversation when a voice at the gate said, “Excuse me, are you Chris Billingsley?” Even though I had never met Mr. Arnold, he knew me and also my neighbor. I was very impressed with that and that he was going door to door days before the election trying to earn a few more votes (Who did that in 2003? Who does that today?). We had a short but friendly conversation. For years, I told this story to my ninth grade students when trying to teach local government and elections, maybe the most boring topic a 9th grader had to endure. Most of the students were either asleep or trying to sneak a post on Facebook but usually one student would raise a hand and ask, “Did you vote for him?” I answered no. The way I remembered it, Mr. Arnold campaigned to downsize or eliminate some schools and I opposed that. I ended up voting for the other guy who pledged, or at least suggested, that he would not close schools. So what happened? The board voted to close schools based on information that we were losing students. You newer residents must be thinking, how in the hell could you believe that Decatur’s school population was declining in 2003? Go figure.
      I’m glad to see that Mr. Arnold is back for another campaign. I still have his flyer from ten years ago showing him, his wife and a young child. My how times change! I look forward to reading and hearing his views.

      1. Got to admit that I kind of like contested elections myself–keeps everyone on their toes and puts the issues out on the table. Door to door campaigning (registered with authorities of course), meet and greets, debates, forums are all good for the community (as long as we all stay respectful and transparent which has pretty much happened since the great divisive Westchester vs. Clairemont nastiness.) But it is a lot of cost and work for the candidates and incumbents have a natural advantage. Everyone should be commended who puts in all that effort.

        1. Door-to-door campaigners don’t need to register, per a Supreme Court ruling. It’s still a great idea. I once had a successful local politician tell me that people want you to ask for their vote and there’s no better way to do it then face to face.

  6. because if i’m nothing if not fair, i saddled up my beast and rode down to El Matador for lunch today.
    maybe all my resistance and bile has been drowned in this godforsaken weather.
    maybe nothing but Mexican satisfies a need for an emotional eating binge.
    maybe without the chip tossing, hair pulling, and table dancing of my beloved spawn i thought my experience might be framed differently
    maybe it really doesn’t matter why
    there i was

    i approached it as though it was the first time i’d visited—my mind unblemished and untainted—my hunger strong. and as i do with all “new” Mexican restaurants i visit, decided to subject it to the most rigorous and demanding test–the standard by which the pantheon of all classic Mexican food is compared: it’s known by many names in many cultures, and even in Atlanta it varies from restaurant to restaurant: the #12, the #18, “Speedy Gonzales add a taco” . . .) of course i’m speaking of the vaunted #23: burrito, taco, rice, refried beans–that classic combination surely Montezuma himself must have enjoyed so many centuries ago.

    eh, it was ok.
    7/10

      1. You would have felt better about it, and maybe even remembered to post your review in the right thread, if you had ordered the 3-taco plate with a cubana gordo, Tommy taco and jerk chicken taco. Damnit, now I’m hungry too.

  7. Mark would be a big asset for our City to have on the School Board. He is a critical thinker, keen financial mind, but having a family in the school system, he will balance numbers, business cases and think out of the box for the benefit of us all. Go, Mark!

  8. I just have to say Mark Arnold deserves your vote just because his wife looks so damn cool.

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