Gov. Tate Reeves announced two new appointments to the State Board of Education on Tuesday. 

Reeves is appointing Angela Bass, the executive director of an education organization, of Jackson and Glen East, a superintendent, of Gulfport to fill two vacant spots on the nine-member board. 

“Mississippi’s children deserve our steadfast commitment to improving education. We must continue to improve outcomes for these students without fear of upsetting the status quo,” said Reeves in a press release. “I am confident that Angela and Glen will serve with honor and represent the interest of parents, teachers, and — most importantly — students. Their achievement has to be our top priority.”

Bass is a former Teach for America corps member who studied education policy and management at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She later became a teacher in both the Tunica and Desoto County school districts and an administrator at the KIPP Memphis Collegiate High School.

She currently serves as the executive director of the Mississippi Early Learning Alliance, which works with organizations and stakeholders to improve education and development of Mississippi children under 8-years-old.

“I am honored to serve the students, families, educators, and children of Mississippi. I am a leader of an early education advocacy organization, a public school parent, and a former educator,” said Bass. “I am excited to bring my perspectives to the board, all while listening to constituents and representing their interests well. I believe that our state’s future depends on the strength of our education system, and I am prepared to do the hard work to ensure its continued improvement.”

East is superintendent of Gulfport School District, which contains 10 schools and around 5,800 students. It is an A-rated district.

He said he is looking forward to working with the board members.

“We will be working hard to do what’s best for all children in the state of Mississippi,” he said.

Jason Dean, chairman of the state board, said Bass and East’s experience and knowledge will be assets to the board. 

“Her (Bass’) impressive background in public policy, particularly as it relates to early childhood education, will be a welcome addition to the Board’s work,” said Dean. 

Dean said he has known East and describes him as “forward thinking” in his educational leadership.

“He has dedicated his professional life to improving educational outcomes and, from what I can tell, he is very much forward leaning when it comes to connecting the educational expectations of parents, students and the community,” said Dean. “We will be well served with his counsel on the State Board of Education.”

Reeves’ previous appointment to the board last came while he was lieutenant governor and was rejected by the Senate. In a controversial move, Reeves appointed former state senator Nancy Collins in his last days as lieutenant governor but waited until January after winning the gubernatorial election to announce the appointment.  

The nine-member board is appointed by state officials. The governor appoints five positions: one school administrator, one teacher, and one individual from the state’s North, Central, South Supreme Court districts, respectively. The lieutenant governor and speaker each get two at-large representatives, meaning they have no residential or occupational requirements on who to choose. The board appoints the state superintendent, who serves as the board secretary, and two student representatives who also serve on the board as non-voting members. Members serve nine-year terms. 

Bass is being appointed to the Central Supreme Court position while East will serve in the administrator role. 

There are currently several vacancies on the board, including the speaker’s at-large appointment (formerly Sean Suggs) and the lieutenant governor’s at-large appointment (formerly Collins). The teacher representative, appointed by the governor, is also vacant.

“The Lieutenant Governor continues to seek recommendations from public education stakeholders, and is in the process of considering candidates now,” said Leah Rupp Smith, deputy chief of staff for Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann.

The term of John Kelly, who fills the Southern Supreme Court District spot, expired in July, though he has continued to serve on the board. 

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Kate Royals is a Jackson native and returned to Mississippi Today as the lead education reporter after serving in the same capacity from 2016 to 2018. Prior to that, she was a reporter for the Clarion-Ledger covering education and state government. She won awards for her investigative work, including stories about the state’s campaign finance laws and prison system. She was a news producer at MassLive in Springfield, Mass., after graduating from Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communications with a master’s degree in communications.