In a letter sent Monday morning to the State Board of Education, Governor LePage said he intends to nominate Jim Rier, of Topsham, to be Commissioner of the Maine Department of Education, pending that 10-member board’s evaluation of the candidate.
While most gubernatorial Commissioner appointments go directly to the legislative committee of jurisdiction, State statute requires the Governor’s nomination for Education Commissioner be interviewed by the State Board of Education, which is currently chaired by Nancy Perkins, of Cornish.
The State Board is expected to interview Acting Commissioner Rier at its next regular meeting on Jan. 15, something traditionally done in executive session. The Chair will then deliver the Board’s written appraisal of the strengths and weaknesses of the candidate within 10 days to the Governor, who will consider the feedback before formally posting the nomination for the Legislature’s consideration.
Acting Commissioner Rier is no stranger to the State Board of Education and a familiar face at the Department and the State House.
A former Senior Project Engineer at Buick who worked for 25 years as President of his family’s car dealership in his native Machias, Rier served two terms on the Board including as Chair from 1997 to 2000.
He joined the Maine DOE as its Director of Finance and Operations in 2003 and became Deputy Commissioner in 2011. 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.
He has also volunteered extensively to support efforts that advance education and economic development, and has been honored for his leadership and service by groups including the Maine School Management Association, the Maine Municipal Association and the American Lung Association.
Rier has served as Acting Education Commissioner since October. In that time, he has worked to successfully implement the student-centered reforms of the LePage Administration, including ensuring school choice and accountability, and that the Maine DOE is effectively supporting school improvement.
He lives in Topsham with his wife, Linda, and has three grown children and seven grandchildren.