‘Chaperone’ tabs Hank McFarland as first of several distinguished GIPS school board candidates
GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - It’s been months since the first bombshell interview given by former Grand Island Mayor Jeremy Jensen.
In that interview, he laid out a long list of issues he had with Grand Island Public Schools. However, it’s also an interview that came a day after the district fired him for sharing images of internal student research on social media. After that day, Jensen vowed that he wouldn’t go away.
Not only has he not let up in his efforts, he’s now behind a new PAC titled ‘Chaperone.’ The group’s goal is to continue to push the envelope when it comes to information inside GIPS, but it’s taking that a step further, by also proposing all new candidates for the GIPS school board. On Sunday, they revealed Pinnacle Bank VP of Private Financing, Hank McFarland, as their first candidate.
McFarland says if he’s elected to the Ward B seat, he wants to get to work with whoever is on the board after it’s all said and done.
”I don’t have an agenda other than let’s look at the whole system and figure out what we can do to improve it, what we can do to repair it,” McFarland said. “I think if everyone goes into it with open eyes and open ears and is willing to listen to both sides there doesn’t need to be any animosity.”
With the general filing deadline in the rear-view mirror for the upcoming November election, McFarland and any candidate announced after him will need to collect 680 signatures. McFarland’s campaign launched first, in part due to the withdrawal of Carol Schooley. She was originally challenging Tim Mayfield for the Ward B seat.
To get on the ballot, ‘Chaperone’ will need to help McFarland collect 680 valid signatures from registered Ward B voters by September 1, but that’s something McFarland said shouldn’t be much of an issue. He cited the immense support both he and Jensen have seen for their efforts so far for his confidence in getting the votes necessary to get his name on the November ballot.
McFarland told Local4 he first started looking into some of the concerning figures when it came to overall grades and graduation rates long before Jensen was let go by the district. He said word-of-mouth was more than reason for him to take a look, but when Jensen sat down with Local4 to bring a variety of issues to light, that’s when he knew even more needed to be done.
“I just wonder why it hadn’t happened sooner,” McFarland said. “The talk, and that’s what you have to be careful of - there are opinions and there are facts. I had been hearing so many different things around town, and then seeing the test scores that were being printed in the paper and on the Nebraska schools website - it had to come to a head eventually.”
When reached for comment, GIPS School Board President Lisa Albers did respond to the upstart movement led by ‘Chaperone.’ Here is her written statement:
At the end of the day, McFarland said the reason he’s running is to give more of a voice to teachers and to the students. From concerning survey results to high turnover rates among GIPS staff, he feels the district is at a breaking point. However, he’s hopeful with the right team of people on the school board that the ship can be course-corrected.
”We have a responsibility as adults to help our children better their station in life, and when I’m seeing test scores - depending on what source you read, you kind of have to be careful there,” McFarland said. “When I’m seeing English Language Arts proficiency scores between 30% and 38%, I mean, we’re failing kids.”
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