McLain appointed deputy education commissioner

Posted: Wednesday, May 23, 2001

Ed McLain, assistant superintendent of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, has been appointed deputy commissioner for the Alaska Department of Educa-tion and Early Development.

McLain, a 20-year veteran of education issues in Alaska, officially will assume his new post July 1.

"I am pretty excited," he said Tuesday, hours after getting the word from Commissioner Shirley Holloway.

"I am very much looking forward to it."

McLain has served four years as the head of instruction on the Kenai Peninsula. In August, he gave notice of his intent to retire and his replacement already has been chosen.

Donna Peterson, the district superintendent, said McLain's colleagues around the peninsula are sharing his enthusiasm for the opportunity.

"We are excited that we will have someone who really understands the Kenai in Juneau," she said. "We are excited for him personally and professionally."

Over the past year, McLain has been spending a lot of time in Juneau, serving on statewide committees and acting as a liaison with the Legislature. His appointment to the commissioner's post is probably due to his familiarity with the current issues facing Alaska's schools, he said.

"I have been working on a number of initiatives with the state department. I will now have a chance to work on state issues."

Recently he has been assisting the state on math standards, the high school exit exam and a technical review of standardized tests.

"I had just been named to head up a state monitoring team to look at correspondence programs. I was just working on that last week," he said.

McLain will replace Bruce Johnson, the current assistant commissioner for education, who will step down June 30 to take a new position with the Association of Alaska School Boards. Last week the AASB announced that Johnson would serve as director of a school improvement service called Quality Schools/Quality Students.

McLain had been weighing the options of retiring or seeking a professorial position. The state position came along serendipitously, he said.

Monday he met with Holloway and Gov. Tony Knowles' chief of staff to discuss the possible appointment. Tuesday morning Holloway called McLain at his Soldotna office to let him know the governor had approved him for the job.

The salary for his new position has not been determined.

"I have no idea," he said Tuesday afternoon. "It never even came up."

For the month of June, McLain will be shuttling between district and state duties.

His new job starts off with a bang. Tuesday evening he was scheduled to attend graduation at Soldotna High School and present a diploma to his own son. Afterward, he boarded a night flight to Oregon for meetings today in Portland.

"I expect I will be earning my pay from the first day," he said.

McLain said his two decades of experience in Alaska's diverse districts will come in handy in his new post.

He came to the state in 1980, first serving as principal teacher in a one-room school in the Alaska Gateway District. Since then he has served as a principal and administrator, specializing in staff development and curriculum, in Juneau, Wrangell, the Lower Yukon and the Chatham district in Southeast.

Working on the Kenai Peninsula has capped his career so far. He noted the district's reputation as a microcosm for the state with schools ranging from large, urban high schools to bush village schoolhouses.

"We understand the issues of give and take, of trying to find common ground," he said.

McLain anticipates smooth transitions both in Soldotna and Juneau. In Soldotna, Gary Whiteley, the current curriculum director, will replace McLain as the district's assistant superintendent for instruction.

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