Beginning next school year, seven high schoolers from the Jackson Public School District will serve as the voices of their peers and play an active role in district policy-making.

Tuesday night the JPS Board of Trustees voted in favor of a policy to add student representatives beginning next school year. One student from each high school will be elected, according to the policy document. Board members will serve as mentors to the students.

Board members and students alike see the new policy as an opportunity to factor in student voice and opinion into board decisions.

“They shall also provide a communication link with the student body, and by participation, provide a practical governmental experience for the students elected,” the document states.

During the meeting, several students addressed the board during the public comments portion, urging members to give them a chance to offer viewpoints and opinions of what’s really happening in schools and how policies passed by the board actually affects them.

Board president Beneta Burt joked with the students in the audience, reminding them that once they are elected they can’t skip a board meeting because of a game.

To serve the one-year term as a representative, the junior or senior needs a minimum 2.5 GPA and a 95 percent attendance rate. Once elected, he or she is expected to attend the regularly scheduled meetings every other Tuesday evening. The upcoming school year’s election will take place by Labor Day (Sept. 4), according to the policy. In the future, election will take place in the spring, during regular student body elections, according to board member Jed Oppenheim.

According to the policy, students will have a designated spot to sit during meetings, where they can speak on the agenda and deliver student reports to the board.


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Kayleigh Skinner joined the Mississippi Today team in January 2017 as an education and legislative reporter and advanced to a senior staff member in her four years with the company. Before joining Mississippi Today, Kayleigh worked at The Hechinger Report, Chalkbeat Tennessee, and The Commercial Appeal. She has appeared on MSNBC, NPR, and BBC Newsday Radio to discuss her reporting.