JACKSON — Two Mississippi public high school students could soon become advisers to the state Board of Education.
The board on Thursday asked for public comment on a proposal to add the student representatives beginning in July. They wouldn’t have a vote, but supporters say they could provide important student perspective to the state’s K-12 governing body. To give the students a vote on the board would require a change in state law.
Students with a 2.5 grade-point average who are enrolled in a public or charter high school could apply, with finalists being interviewed and chosen by the board. A senior and a junior would serve in the initial year. After that, the junior would continue for a second year, with a new junior being added each year for a two-year term.
The state Board of Education could vote on the plan in November.
“I think it’s a fantastic concept,” said board President Jason Dean of Madison, after the plan was laid out by staff members Thursday. It’s been pushed by board member John Kelly of Gulfport. Research shows 15 other states currently have students serving on their state boards of education.
Advisers would be assigned to board committees, but wouldn’t be able to participate in closed sessions unless the board voted to invite them. Students would be excused from school and would be reimbursed for travel to and from meetings, a cost estimated at $5,000 per student.
If approved, the state would send out applications in December. Any applicant would have to get approval from their parents, principal and superintendent. They would have to present letters of recommendation from a teacher, an administrator, and an adult who isn’t a relative, while filling out an application due in February that would include essay questions.
A committee would select and interview at least 10 semifinalists, forwarding four finalists to the board for interviews in May. The board would then vote to appoint the advisers in June.
Graduating seniors could get the chance to prepare a report to the Board of Education documenting what they’ve learned. They could also get a chance to complete a capstone project to be presented to the board and to earn academic credit.