Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann appointed a former newspaper publisher and public schools advocate to the State Board of Education, the nine-member board that oversees public schools in Mississippi.

Bill Jacobs of Brookhaven will serve on the Board of Education until July 2024.

William “Bill” Jacobs of Brookhaven will serve a three-year term ending in July 2024 pending confirmation by the Mississippi Senate. He is replacing former board chairman Jason Dean, who stepped down this year.

Jacobs currently serves on the board of directors for the National Newspaper Association and the Mississippi Economic Council’s board of governors and operation board. He served as publisher of the Daily Leader in Brookhaven and Prentiss Headlight in Prentiss until he sold the companies in 2012.

He also previously served as chairman of the Brookhaven/Lincoln County Economic Development Foundation and Alliance, president of the Mississippi Press Association and on the board of trustees for King’s Daughters Medical Center in Brookhaven.

“The foundation of every community is its public schools. Look at the prosperous communities across the state and one will find a single common element — strong public schools. Mississippi has had some great successes but so too failures,” Jacobs said in a press release from Hosemann’s office. “The current brain drain of many of our best and brightest to other states is the most disturbing failure for its continued path weakens even our best school systems. These are challenging days for our state and I look forward to joining the others on the board to find credible solutions.”

Hosemann said Jacobs’ experience in journalism and business make him a valuable asset to the board.

“Bill Jacobs has spent his entire career asking questions, researching the facts and reporting his findings to the wider public to improve his community and exhibit transparency,” Hosemann said in a press release. “These traits, along with his business sense and support for public schools, make him an excellent addition to the board.”

At times in recent months, the nine-member Board of Education has not had enough members to constitute a quorum to conduct business because of vacancies the governor was responsible for filling and one vacancy each that Speaker Philip Gunn and Hosemann are responsible for filling. Gunn has still not filled his spot on the board.

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 there are no residential or occupational requirements for whom they 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.

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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.