March 26, 2013 10:01:42 AM
JACKSON -- A leading proponent of charter schools may be joining the state Board of Education.
House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, said Monday he's appointing Joel Bomgar to the board, pending Senate confirmation.
Bomgar is founder and CEO of Bomgar Corp. of Ridgeland, which offers remote technical computer support to companies, governments and universities. He also heads Better Education for Mississippi, a group of Republican-linked business leaders pushing for a widened charter schools law.
"I think it's the most important thing we've got to get right in Mississippi," said Bomgar, a 33-year-old Jackson resident who was home-schooled before attending and graduating from Belhaven University.
Gunn said Bomgar is the only person who approached him about joining the board.
"He contacted me and he said he wanted to be on the board," Gunn said. "I know he has a passion for education and I thought he would be a legitimate pick."
Bomgar would replace Martha "Jackie" Murphy, whose term expires at June's end.
If confirmed, Bomgar's term would begin July 1 and run through June 30, 2022. Members are unpaid.
Murphy, of Rienzi, was appointed by former House Speaker Billy McCoy, a Democrat.
The board oversees educational policy for Mississippi's 151 public school districts.
Though Bomgar supports charter schools, plans now being considered by the Legislature would create a separate board to authorize and oversee such schools. That means he might have little influence over such schools as a member of the Board of Education.
Bomgar, though, noted that the state's public school system, with 490,000 students today, is likely to continue to educate the vast majority of Mississippi students "forever."
Bomgar said he's not joining the board with any particular aims or agenda.
"I'm still trying to figure that out. There's a lot I know and a lot I don't know," he said. "What do we need to do differently than we're doing today?"
Bomgar and his company gave $10,000 to Republican candidates in the 2011 state election, mainly to House candidates, according to records compiled by the National Institute on Money in State Politics.