State Board of Education selects states new education commissioner

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraskan who helps coordinate services for students, teachers and school districts was chosen Thursday as the state's new education commissioner.Dr. Moon, Broken Bow's former Superintendent, was a finalist for the position. The State Board of Education announced it had unanimously chosen Matthew Blomstedt, of Central City, for the job out of four finalists. Blomstedt will replace Roger Breed, who retired earlier this year.Blomstedt serves as executive director of the Nebraska Educational Service Unit Coordinating Council. The 6-year-old council works with Nebraska's 17 educational service units, which provide staff training, technology and instructional materials to schools.The board voted 8-0 to approve Blomstedt. Board members pointed to his experience with educators throughout the state, and his work with rural Nebraska schools. Board members noted that, in his current job, Blomstedt had met with more than 100 Nebraska superintendents. He also has worked closely with state lawmakers."He was so well-informed about the needs in education throughout Nebraska," said board member Lillie Larsen, of Lincoln. "I personally appreciated that he stressed his willingness to negotiate, to come to agreement on the best educational policy."Blomstedt received a Ph.D. in educational leadership and higher education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, in addition to a master's degree in community and regional planning and a bachelor's degree in political science.Blomstedt also has headed the Nebraska Rural Community Schools Association and worked as a research analyst for the Nebraska Legislature's Education Committee.Board president Pat Timm said members will work with Blomstedt to develop a new state accountability system. Blomstedt and the board will also work together to try to close the achievement gap among groups of students. Recent state assessments have shown a gap among white students and minorities.The other candidates were Virginia Moon, who most recently served as interim superintendent of Omaha Public Schools; Norman Ridder, the superintendent of the Springfield, Mo., public schools; and Michael Sentence, of Concord, Mass., who most recently was the president of Tribal Group, USA, an education consulting company.Breed retired in January, with a $211,650 annual salary. Blomstedt's salary is subject to negotiation.__Online: