Student Board Membership Background

What is the Maine State Board of Education?

  • Has 9 adult members.
  • Was created in 1949.
  • Works collaboratively with the Commissioner and Department of Education on a variety of issues from the qualification of Maine teachers, to approving school construction to ensuring up-to-date technology in Maine schools.
  • Its mission is: "to provide policy leadership that promotes a Maine public school system whose graduates will meet
    current and future learning standards, and to make recommendations to the Executive and Legislative branches of Government that will further this mission."
  • Its vision is: "to ensure Maine public school students graduate with the skills, knowledge, and principles to be responsible American citizens; self-directed and dedicated to making contributions to society by pursuing further education and employment."

Getting Youth Involved

The desire to have youth on the Maine State Board of Education started several years ago and like a lot of things, it took time to transform this from an idea into a reality. Jim Carignan, a past chair of the Maine State Board of Education, was instrumental in this process along with other board members and adult community members who felt passionate about the idea. These adults decided to first ask youth to help to create a legislative proposal with the intent of turning the idea of having two youth on the Maine State Board of Education into Maine law. This information was shared with the full board, which endorsed the idea. Senator Libby Mitchell was asked to sponsor a bill to bring youth representatives to the Maine State Board of Education. Other legislators advocated for this bill, such as Representative David Farrington, who submitted the bill. After moving through the proper channels, LD 151 was voted into law in 2007.

Next, funding had to be secured to help ensure that two youth members would be appointed in a thorough and inclusive manner and also that time and energy would be spent talking with youth in Maine about how they might envision young people being involved in educational public policy for years to come. The Maine State Board received a grant through the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE), funded by MetLife, to support the implementation of the initiative.

In order to accomplish the two over-arching goals of appointing two youth to the Board of Education and creating systems to support youth involvement in educational policy making in the future, the State Board of Education sought out a partner organization. The Maine Youth Action Network (MYAN), a program of the People's Regional Opportunity Program, was hired to support this initiative. MYAN worked with the youth appointed to the board and with youth throughout the State of Maine to encourage youth voice and participation in educational policy at all levels.

Steps to the State Board

  • Applications are sought from certain high school sophomores annually. The annual appointments alternate between Maine's two Congressional Districts. This maintains a balance of student representation across the state. The successful candidate is seated on the board when the sophomore year has been completed.
  • Each student member of the State Board serves for a term of two years. A junior in high school must be added each year to the State Board to serve a term of two years.
  • The State Board shall notify every public high school principal in the appropriate Congressional District where applications are being accepted for the student member's position.
  • Applications for the student member's position must be submitted to the State Board according to the published schedule.
  • The State Board is responsible for selecting three applicants as finalists for the nomination. The names of these finalists are sent to the Office of the Governor.
  • The Governor of the State of Maine nominates one of the finalists to be the next youth member of the State Board of Education.
  • The Joint Standing Committee for Education and Cultural Affairs of the Maine State Legislature interviews the nominee in a public hearing and makes a recommendation about the nominee to the Maine Senate.
  • The Maine Senate is charged with confirming the appointment.
  • A new youth member is seated on the Maine State Board of Education.


Sandra Bourget
State Board of Education