Maine Gov. Paul LePage has nominated Jim Rier to lead the Maine education department. Rier is currently the state’s acting commissioner of education, having taken over the job from Stephen Bowen, who left the Maine department last year for a job with the Council of Chief State School Officers.
Rier joined the Maine department in 2003 as the director of finance and operations, and rose to the post of deputy commissioner in 2011. Previously, he served two terms on the state school board, including one stretch as chairman from 1997 to 2000, and had worked at his family’s car dealership for 25 years. Rier has also worked as a senior project engineer at Buick.
In a statement, LePage, a Republican, said he expects the state board to formally interview Rier for the spot at its Jan. 15 meeting. The board will then provide LePage with feedback. The next step is for the governor to formally submit Rier for consideration by the state legislature.
“In his tenure, Acting Commissioner Rier has established himself as the state’s foremost expert in education funding, and has led reforms to the School Funding Law, Child Development Services and the department that have increased transparency and fiscal accountability to Maine taxpayers,” LePage said in a statement announcing Rier’s selection.
In a prepared statement quoted in a Bangor Daily News article, House Majority Leader Seth Berry, a Democat, sounded hopeful about LePage’s choice, but wanted some further assurances from Rier: “He has strong knowledge of our schools, our state, and the school funding formula. His job will be to convince us that he can not only manage, but also lead. Democrats will want to hear his visions for helping all students succeed, not just a few.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.