Browder gets Alaska superintendent job

Browder gets Alaska superintendent job

By Matt Grant. CREATED Jan 31, 2012

FORT MYERS - Swapping sunshine for snow, former Lee County superintendent Jim Browder is heading to Alaska.

"He brings an energy and experience to the district," said Anchorage school board president Gretchen Guess, "that we know will lead to great things."

Browder, who was in the running for a superintendent job in Palm Beach County, was announced as the next superintendent for the Anchorage School District Tuesday.

He will sign a three year deal making $180,000 a year, $15,000 more than the current superintendent, according to Anchorage school board member Don Smith.

"I think he's going to be a good fit up here," said Smith. "He looks to me like he's a very hands-on person. He's not afraid to express himself and tell you what he thinks."

Browder will oversee a district of 49,000 students. It's the largest in the state but still smaller than Lee County, which has 82,000 students.

Browder stepped down as Lee County superintendent in August 2010 after nearly eight years. He left with a $335,000 "golden parachute" and was hired a month later as an Edison State College vice president without a formal job search.

From the beginning Browder clashed with faculty. He was ultiamtely given a vote of no confidence and his contract was terminated in April 2011. The college gave him a $175,000 severance to walk away and not sue. 

In his Anchorage job application, Browder says he "chose" to leave the college in order to pursue a return to K-12 education.

Reached by phone, Smith says the controversies surrounding Browder in Florida didn't factor into his decision.

"I don't think it affects how he can run a district," said Smith. "You know his record in your school district is very very good."

The Anchorage School District praised Browder's Lee County tenure citing improvements in math and reading scores, graduation rates and the number of A schools.

"Jim is a proven leader," said Guess. "Who has...managed finances wisely through tough budget cuts and, most important, demonstrated the ability to deliver academic success...[He] is an outstanding selection." 

The board selected Browder over an Alaskan superintendent in a 6-1 vote.

Browder will be begin training in April and will officially take over as superintendent in July. He did not return repeated calls for comment. 

"I guess we'll roll the dice," said Smith. "And give it a try."

Watch the Anchorage announcement here

Matt Grant