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Lt. Gov. taps Jacobs for state board

A former newspaper publisher, businessman, and public schools advocate will soon join the ranks of the Mississippi State Board of Education.     

William “Bill” O. Jacobs of Brookhaven, appointee of Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, will serve a three-year term ending in July 2024, pending confirmation by the Mississippi Senate. Jacobs replaces former Board Chairman Jason Dean, who stepped down in February 2021.   

“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. 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,” Jacobs said. “I thank Lt. Gov. Hosemann for his willingness to give me this opportunity. It is truly a great honor.” 

The Mississippi State Board of Education includes nine members from across the state, with two appointed at-large by the lieutenant governor. The board oversees the State Department of Education, working with the state superintendent of education to establish statewide education policy ranging from curriculum to accountability. Mississippi currently has about 450,000 public school students.   

“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. These traits, along with his business sense and support for public schools, make him an excellent addition to the board,” Hosemann said.   

Jacobs currently serves on the Board of Directors for the National Newspaper Association and Board of Governors as well as the Operating Board of the Mississippi Economic Council. As owner of two newspaper-publishing companies in southwest Mississippi, Jacobs served as publisher of the Daily Leader in Brookhaven and Prentiss Headlight in Prentiss until December 2012 when he sold his 130-year-old newspaper companies. He is past chairman of the Brookhaven/Lincoln County Economic Development Foundation and Alliance, is past president of the Mississippi Press Association, and recently rolled off the Board of Trustees for King’s Daughters Medical Center in Brookhaven.

Jacobs earned his bachelor’s degree in business and journalism from the University of Mississippi. He also attended Belhaven College and Birkbeck College at the University of London, and is a graduate of Brookhaven High School.

He is married to Amy Alexander Jacobs, twice named Brookhaven High School Parent of the Year. His children, Ann Kirk Harris (husband, Neil) and Meredith Jacobs, graduated with honors from Brookhaven High School. Bill and Amy Jacobs were active members of Parents for Public Schools, and Amy Jacobs currently serves on the Advisory Board for the Mississippi School for the Arts.   

Hosemann appointed Dr. Ronnie McGehee, former superintendent of Madison County Schools, to the board in December 2020. McGehee is the current executive director of the Mississippi Association of School Administrators and Mississippi Association of Secondary School Principals.

“I am excited about it,” Jacobs said of the appointment. “My support of education in Brookhaven has been strong over the years, through my time at The Daily Leader and personally. I’m looking forward to working at a state level to see what we can do to make our public schools up to where they need to be to serve our children.”