TOPSHAM — James Rier, who has been with the Maine Department of Education for a decade, has been chosen by Gov. Paul LePage to serve as acting commissioner of the department, according to a Tuesday press release.

Rier, a Topsham resident and Machias native, was first the DOE’s director of finance and operations and, since 2011, has served as deputy commissioner. He replaces Stephen Bowen, who stepped down as commission to take a job with the National Council of Chief State School Officers.

“It is an honor to serve the people of Maine and I look forward to working with Gov. LePage and the talented team at Maine DOE to continue the transformation of our education system so that it serves all Maine students and prepares them for success after they leave our schools,” Rier said in the press release.

LePage will continue to look into candidates for the permanent job of commissioner, and said he may introduce a nominee to the Legislature’s Education Committee by January 2014.

“With Jim’s expertise in fiscal responsibility and his leadership of improved operations, I am confident the department is in very capable hands,” LePage said in the press release.

Rier’s responsibilities with the Education Department have included implementing and managing the Essential Programs and Services funding model and the 2005 School Funding Law, along with school audits, transportation and nutrition programs, all school facilities, data management, teacher certification and state and federal reporting.

Rier was a senior project engineer at Buick before joining the DOE, and spent 25 years as president of Rier Motors Co., a car dealership in Machias that his father founded.

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