Browder Retires as ASD Superintendent; Graff Chosen as Successor
Ed Graff has been the district’s Chief Academic Officer since 2009
ANCHORAGE - The Anchorage School Board announced Thursday that Superintendent Dr. Jim Browder will be retiring, and his replacement has already been found.
Ed Graff has been the district’s Chief Academic Officer, a position once known as “assistant superintendent,” since 2009.
The announcement came just hours after a Thursday morning meeting behind closed doors between Browder and the school board, and just a month after he informed the school board that medical issues with his family could necessitate a change. Browder said, with retirement, he’s “moving on to that next phase of what I have to do as a father and a grandfather.”
Both Browder and Anchorage School Board President Jeannie Mackie emphasized that Browder is retiring, and not resigning. But at Thursday’s press conference, both were vague on the difference between the two. “Resignation wasn't something we had designed really one way or another,” Mackie said. “I don't think it makes a difference within the contract, and within the terms that we negotiated in order to amend his contract.”
The specifics of Browder’s retirement, and the exact changes to his “amended” contract, will be released at the school board meeting on Monday, March 18. But the details discussed at Thursday’s meeting make it clear that Browder will leave essentially without penalty.
“He will be paid under the normal terms of his contract through the next 90 days,” Mackie said. The board agreed to accept Browder's retirement with only 90 days notice; his contract stipulated 120 days. When asked about recouping other costs-such as the $54,000 price tag for the nationwide search that brought Browder to Anchorage, or the costs of relocating him to Alaska, Mackie said, “We are not going to be asking for reimbursement for Dr. Browder's moving costs.”
Browder’s retirement surprised few: He had informed the school board in early February that medical issues with his daughter and grandson could require him to leave his position to be closer to his family. And just two weeks ago, he announced that he was one of three finalists for the position of superintendent of schools in Des Moines, Iowa. Browder did not get the job.
Despite working out his agreement with the school district, Browder was asked if, in leaving early, he felt he owed the taxpayers of Anchorage anything.
“Over the year I've been here I've done everything I was supposed to, and more, in relation to what we've tried to accomplish,” he said. “I owe the citizens here a debt of gratitude, I owe the board a debt of gratitude, and I believe that from a performance standpoint, I've done everything that was expected and more in relation to the job,” he said.
Despite his retirement, when asked about looking for other jobs, Browder said he “won’t rule it out downstream.” In the 90 days remaining to him as an employee of the Anchorage School District, he said he will “be focused on what we're doing here, and [my] family.” He said he intends to use some of his accumulated leave in that time.
Graff, who received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at UAA, has a long history with the Anchorage School District.
He has taught at elementary schools across Anchorage -- Chinook, Kasuun and Gladys Wood -- starting in 1991.
He then moved to Willard L. Bowman, where he was a intern to the principal. In 2001, he became assistant principal at Mountain View Elementary, and later that year was head principal at Rogers Park.
Graff was then principle at Mountain View, Bowman and Kasuun until 2008, when he became the district's Executive Director of Elementary Education.
His new post will remove him from his current job as Chief Academic Officer.
Graff will begin his new duties as superintendent Monday night, after the Anchorage School Board accepts Browder's retirement.
Tuesday morning, Graff will be in charge of all Anchorage schools, and Browder will be transitioning out.