ASD Hires New Superintendent
Jim Browder will now lead the Anchorage School District
After months of searching, and exhaustive candidate interviews, school board members announced their selection for the next Anchorage School District (ASD) Superintendent.
"We have chosen Jim Browder to lead the district in this effort,” said ASD Board President Gretchen Guess in a press conference at the ASD education Tuesday.
Dozens of employees lined the halls for the announcement.
Guess said Browder – the former superintendent of Florida's Lee County School District – will travel from Florida next month in preparation for taking the reigns in July.
“You’re stuck with me until June 30,” said retiring current Superintendent Carol Comeau, prompting loud applause from the audience.
She said Browder will work with internal staff and school administrators upon his arrival in February. He will become a full-time ASD employee in April.
It will be a long process, but Comeau said she is committed to helping her successor in every way possible.
Browder is new to Alaska, but board members say he has one key qualification.
“This is someone who has run a district that is much bigger than Anchorage, [and] that has gotten academic success in the face of budget cuts,” Guess said.
ASD faces a nearly $20 million budget gap next year. After cutting more than $95 million over a two-year span at his previous district, Browder says he has the tools to make the same changes here in Anchorage.
“If you do a really good job of getting all the information to everybody, as many people as you can, the decision becomes matter of fact,” said Browder in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon.
Board members say they’re prepared for those decisions.
“Are there going to be changes? I think basically the nature of education and the nature of our budgets are going to lead to changes,” Guess said.
Comeau said she plans to ease the change as much as she can – giving Browder a candid look at the district she’s led for the past twelve years.
“It’s my hope that he will get out to all the schools and all the departments that are so critical to this district,” Comeau said. “I feel very strongly I need to get across to him how important Anchorage’s role is in supporting the rest of the state.”
Browder said he’s ready for it.
Under the proposed contract he would earn $180,000 annual salary - a $15,000 increase to the amount paid to Comeau. School board members said that number is still far below the national average and benefits would remain similar to previous contracts