GIPS Board of Education
GIPS Board of Education

Leadership Unlimited Candidate Survey

Final Release: Grand Island Public Schools Board of Education

Disclaimer:

Hall County Leadership Unlimited Inc. conducted a candidate survey to highlight local leaders running for office. All Hall County candidates appearing on the ballot, with at least one challenger, received the survey to complete. Survey responses will be shared, unedited, in alphabetical order by last name, grouped by the office for which the candidates are running. Candidates were sent the survey using the contact information provided on the Hall County Election Commission’s page within hallcountyne.gov. Please contact candidates directly for any requested discussion or clarification about their responses to survey questions. Candidate responses do not represent Hall County Leadership Unlimited Inc. staff or Board Directors.

Dan Brosz's Responses:
Candidate Name: Dan Brosz
Seat for which you are running in 2022: Board of Education Ward A
What motivated you to run in the 2022 election? I was first seated on the board in 2015 and am completing my second term. I have always been about what’s best for students. I have devoted 47 years of my adult life to public education. I have been a classroom teacher, a curriculum specialist, building principal, and assistant superintendent. I have taught teacher-education classes in the Nebraska university system. I think these experiences bring something unique to the position. Education has not only been my calling, it’s been a passion to serve all kids the best ways possible. If re-elected, this will be my final term of service.
What are the characteristics you possess which make you the right candidate for this position? What makes anyone the “right candidate?” The Grand Island Board of Education is currently composed of people who bring unique educational, professional, and personal backgrounds to the board table. I believe all of my peers are uniquely qualified to serve. I am deeply committed to all the kids we are asked to educate, no exceptions. That’s not an easy task when one considers the diverse population of our student body. I ask tough question and I expect plausible answers. My favorite question, when considering a change in policy, practice, or procedure is: How will we know the change we are about to make will be better than what we had? How will we evaluate its impact? I’ve asked this question so many times, the staff has come to anticipate it before I have a chance to ask.
What impact do you hope to have while serving your term? I want to be known as a fair-minded person who understands the big picture. In a district the size of GIPS, you’re on the board for the wrong reason if you’re looking for individual impact or something with your name attached to it. The board must work as a team of nine to produce the best outcomes possible. We can lose sight of the district’s mission to make every student, every day, a success if our board service becomes self-serving. Some say the Ward representative serves the people of their ward. I disagree! We serve the students of our ward and all students of the community in a partnership with constituents to do what’s best for kids. There are two program areas I'd like to see addressed during my final term. The district needs to find a permanent home for the Medical Pathways program without it costing us millions and millions of dollars. We need to create and implement a unique and manageable program for the gifted kids in our elementary buildings. This is an area that has needed to be addressed for many years.
What is the best kept secret within our community? I believe the Academies at Grand Island Senior High are the best kept kept secret in our community. I’ve heard kids give impactful testimonials about the power of the academies. The ability to explore a career pathway before enrolling in a post-secondary program of study helps students make wise choices about their future. That’s what is meant by having students college ready, community ready, or ready to enter the workforce upon graduating from The Academies at Grand Island Senior High.
   
Terry Brown's Responses:
Candidate Name: Terry Brown
Seat for which you are running in 2022: Grand Island Public Schools Board of Education, Ward A
What motivated you to run in the 2022 election? I am motivated, as an incumbent, by seeing and hearing from the teachers and kids about the educational opportunities that the District provides.
What are the characteristics you possess which make you the right candidate for this position? I am a good listener. Gathering information and being able to apply what I hear and see to make decisions for the district. I make sure to hear both sides of any conflict before making a decision.
What impact do you hope to have while serving your term? I hope to be able to keep supporting the teaching and education of all of our kids in the district. I hope to provide our kids with a safe and engaging educational environment to learn.
What is the best kept secret within our community? Top two secrets: Our engaging teaching staff and our kids.
   
Tim Mayfield's Responses:
Candidate Name: Tim Mayfield
Seat for which you are running in 2022: GIPS School Board Ward B
What motivated you to run in the 2022 election? My kids have been in the GIPS school district for over 10 years at this point. I've been to countless parent/teacher conferences, band performances, and football games. I've also served on the Parent Advisory Council, Select Finance Committee, and Public Relations Committee since at least 2018. I was appointed to fill a vacancy on the board back in 2020, and really felt a passion for the work of the Board. Filing to run back in January was an easy decision for me.
What are the characteristics you possess which make you the right candidate for this position? I am a natural problem solver who relies on data to make decisions. I'm not swayed by passing fads I'm known for asking the hard questions and demanding complete answers, and then digging into problems to find solutions. When those solutions aren't easy, I find ways to bring people on board to make the changes that need to be made.
Beyond that, I've seen this district from inside and out, and already have an understanding of what works and what needs improved.
What impact do you hope to have while serving your term? I think one of the most important things I want to be able to do is improve the transparency of the school board and the district. Trust is built on open, honest communication, and right now it feels like there's a lack of trust.
I believe once we begin to address this issue, then we will see educational metrics such as attendance and proficiency scores improve.
Finally, I want all of Grand Island to be proud of our district and view it as a great place to send their kids and work.
What is the best kept secret within our community? I may be biased, but it's the Islander Express coffee shop on Anna and South Locust! The shop is ran by students from GISH's Workforce Prep Academy, so they're getting real-world experience of working a job while still taking classes and getting a quality education. Of course every good coffee shop needs good food too, and Islander Express partners with Big Apple Bagel and Red Bird Bakery for their bagels and rolls. Open Monday through Friday from 7:00 to 11:00am.
   
Hank McFarland's Responses:
Candidate Name: Hank McFarland
Seat for which you are running in 2022: Board of Education, Ward B
What motivated you to run in the 2022 election? I come from a small family (mother, father, one aunt, one uncle) which was deeply immersed in education. My father taught and coached at GISH for 38 years. My mother taught at Gates Elementary School, my aunt taught at Wasmer Elementary School, and my uncle taught and coached in Iowa for his entire career. Education was obviously VERY important to our family. I went to Wasmer Elementary School, Barr Junior High, and graduated from GISH in 1987. The Grand Island Public Schools are important to me, particularly since I was reared in the East Gym of GISH! During the years of my youth, Grand Island had one of the strongest Public School systems in the State. It was incredibly difficult to even break into the teaching ranks in the Grand Island system...you had to basically know someone on "the inside" of the Platt Building to even get an interview. All of that has changed. Teachers have been leaving in droves, and we are having difficulty finding teachers to fill spots. Test scores have plummeted. US News and World Report now ranks Grand Island Senior High as 96th out of 209 schools in Nebraska. US News and World Report gives GISH a 15.9% rating in "College Readiness", and lists GISH proficiency levels in Science at 14%, Reading at 18% and Mathematics at 19%.

GIPS is a business. It takes in revenues, has expenses and produces a "service product"...that being the education of children as measured though the metrics of test scores. GIPS is failing miserably in the business of educating our children. If GIPS were a business producing a material product (say, for an example, automobiles), basically 81% of the automobiles coming off the GIPS assembly line would not be able to drive. This, as a business, would go bankrupt VERY quickly. We need to dive deeply into how our school system has gone from one of the BEST in the state to one that is performing at "bankruptcy levels" in core curriculum proficiencies in Science, English and Mathematics. As adults, we have the responsibility to make sure our children are both employable and promotable. If our children are performing at proficiency levels in the 14% to 19% range, they will be neither employable nor promotable. We need Board Members who will ask the difficult questions and look for the even more difficult answers as to what is preventing our teachers from being able to teach the way they want to teach and what is preventing our students from being able to learn in effective ways.
What are the characteristics you possess which make you the right candidate for this position? I have a strong business background (30 years in the private sector) and strong communications skills. 21 years of my professional career were spent working for and with Boards of Directors, so I am very familiar with how Boards work (or do NOT work) efficiently.

Being raised in an educational background by teachers, I am a big supporter of those who dedicate their lives to teaching, and I want to give those individuals all of the tools they need to teach. Additionally, we need to REMOVE ALL BARRIERS that are preventing teachers from being able to do their jobs well. "Opportunity Cost" is one of the most fundamental factors in business...for every dollar you spend on one aspect of your business, there is a dollar that cannot be spent somewhere else. "Time" works in the same way. Every minute a teacher has taken away FROM teaching is a minute where a student is NOT learning. As a Board Member, I would like to find out from teachers what barriers, like "lack of time spent teaching", are getting in their way of teaching the way they want to teach. Additionally, I would like to see how teachers feel about the curriculum(s) they are being forced to teach. Obviously, 19% proficiency levels indicate there may be an issue with curriculum, and I would really like to get the input of teachers, who are the "boots on the ground", when it comes to knowing what works best in helping students improve their proficiencies in the core curriculum areas of science, language arts and mathematics.
What impact do you hope to have while serving your term? The biggest impact I would like to have would be to promote transparency to the community regarding "what" and "how" things are being taught in our Public Schools. There has been a shroud of secrecy hanging over the Grand Island Public Schools for some time now, and that shroud needs to be lifted. Parents need to be able to see what is going on in the classrooms and in the hallways. Parents need to know that their children are going to be safe and that they are going to get an education that will help them become employable and promotable. If we can promote transparency, it will have a significant impact in bringing back the confidence that our public schools CAN produce students who will be proficient in science, language arts and mathematics. By being better students, children will have a better chance at being productive members of society.
What is the best kept secret within our community? The best kept secret in our community is that we have a significant amount of people who want the best learning environment for our students and for our teachers. Children are the greatest asset a community can have...they are our future leaders. The citizens of Grand Island recognize the significance of having a public education system that can produce students who will be successful in the workforce, successful in life and successful in building a strong community. People in Grand Island know that improving our learning environment in the Grand Island Public School System is at a critical crossroads...and we will do everything within our power to help our children become more proficient in core curriculum subjects. If we can help our teachers teach, and if we can help our students learn, we can give our children a better chance at being successful adults.
 
Carlos Barcenas's Responses:
Candidate Name: Carlos Barcenas
Seat for which you are running in 2022: Board of Education Ward C
What motivated you to run in the 2022 election? Our Community - It is no secret the last couple of years were rough as we navigated the waters of Covid-19. We were all impacted in one way or another, and faced with various challenges. We all must show up from our students, staff, administrators, volunteers and community partners and I am grateful that we have a community that cares. I have learn a lot in the last 10 years serving as a board member and what motivates me to run in the 2022 election is that we have a strong school district, with amazing staff and administrators that are willing to show up for the future and wellbeing of our students.
What are the characteristics you possess which make you the right candidate for this position? The characteristics I possess which make me the right candidate for this position are some of the following:

Grand Island is home:
I have lived in Grand Island for 28 years, graduated from Grand Island Senior High and have experienced and seen our community grow. I am married to my amazing wife Angela, we have four kids, three dos and three cats, we are involved in our community, is where we have our family, where we go to church, is the place we want our kids to remember.

Servant leadership:
Since 1994 in one way or another I believe my calling on servant leadership and from school clubs, to community organizations I believe we must help and serve each-other.

Cultural Broker:
We have a rich and diverse community across multiple dimensions of diversity. Being an immigrant myself I have an understanding of many of the barriers and opportunities immigrants have in our community as well as creating opportunities for bridging the cultural gap. We have a district that is richly diverse beyond ethnicity, and I have the willingness, experience and skills to support positive growth.

Flexibility and Support:
If it wasn't for a supportive, understanding wife, and family the last 10 years would have been impossible. Being a volunteer for the school board of educations requires flexibility and time. Every month we are spending a minimum of 20 hours per month or more on school board related matters, from monthly board meeting to committee meetings and the many other activities we serve on I am grateful for previous employers who allow for that flexibility to owning my own business and having the support of my family.

Time served:
The last 10 years have been a learning experience, and has allowed me to understand the process and the complexities of our district. I have heard from students, community members,
What impact do you hope to have while serving your term? I hope to be part of helping make decisions that continue to be a catalyst for our students, staff and community. Hope to inspire others to serve and mentor others in their journey.
What is the best kept secret within our community? Our Teachers!
   
Eric Garcia-Mendez's Responses:
Candidate Name: Eric Garcia-Mendez
Seat for which you are running in 2022: GIPS School Board Ward C
What motivated you to run in the 2022 election? I am running for the GIPS School Board because the 53% of Latino students in the district deserve to have representation from someone who shares similar experiences as theirs in the community. I am community-grown and community-driven and I want to invest back into the community that raised me. I will strive to represent the lived experience of all students in the district and ensure that the district adapts and improves continuously, so that no child gets left behind. My biggest motivation is giving back to our community and all the amazing people in it.
What are the characteristics you possess which make you the right candidate for this position? I have spent the last three years in Grand Island establishing myself in my work and learning about this community from a professional capacity. I have been connecting with community members, advancing new programming and advocating for those who are underserved in Grand Island. My empathy for this community will never stop. I am not afraid to ask hard questions. I have the lived experience that is shared by many and I can represent that life experience on the GIPS school board.
What impact do you hope to have while serving your term? I hope to leave an impact of creating greater opportunities for all students in the district. Setting up students for success once they graduate is important. When you provide a quality public education where a student feels safe, welcomed and a sense of belonging, it will leave a lasting positive effect on the Grand Island community. My impact will hopefully be to see this community continue to grow its' opportunities for students so that they decide to stay or come back.
What is the best kept secret within our community? Grand Island has a rich history of immigration, and a lot of people don't know that or talk about it. The cultural diversity of our community should be something we celebrate more often. There are also so many opportunities for growth in our community, that all it takes is getting involved in something you are passionate about and investing back into Grand Island in order to see your community from a different perspective.
   
Samuel Harris's Responses:
Candidate Name: Samuel Harris
Seat for which you are running in 2022: Ward C
What motivated you to run in the 2022 election? There are a couple of reason that motivated me to run for the school board seat, first I have invested interest in the success of our school district and how it is being ran due to me having 3 kids in the district and at least 16 years of attendance left, that being said I believe being an active participant in the improvement of Grand Island Public Schools is not only necessary but important to the community at large. Secondly I want to make sure all parents and students voices get heard during decisions being made that affect the student body at large through communication and transparency.
What are the characteristics you possess which make you the right candidate for this position? Some of the characteristics I possess are the ability to effectively communicate ideas through dialogue, good work ethic allowing me to get things done and openness to new ideas.
What impact do you hope to have while serving your term? The impact during my term will be to leave GIPS better than I found it, because with all the rapid developing information becoming available that's all one can hope for. After all we all have the same goal of improving education of our kids.
What is the best kept secret within our community? The best kept secret within our community is power of our youth sports and the positive influence they have on our kids, all the volunteer's do a great job here, I'm really impressed. Also if you haven't had Wave pizza then you're missing out.
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