The Anchorage School Board announced Thursday that Superintendent Jim Browder will retire from the district, naming a new superintent to succeed him.
ASB President Jeannie Mackie says Ed Graff, currently the district’s assistant superintendent of curriculum, will take over from Browder after his retirement becomes effective June 14.
Browder told reporters at the ASD Education Center Thursday that he was retiring to be closer to his family, some of whom have medical issues. He said he hadn’t decided on whether he would try to seek employment elsewhere after leaving the district.
“I won’t rule it out downstream, but for the next 90 days I’ll be focused on this district and my family,” Browder said.
Asked about his performance, Browder said he's done everything he was expected to do at ASD and more, and that he's proud of the opportunity he was given.
Browder became ASD’s superintendent in January 2012, defeating Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Superintendent Steve Atwater for the job. He took over from longtime ASD Superintendent Carol Comeau that summer, after she said farewell to the district’s students, parents and teachers in May.
Some of Browder’s first steps at ASD involved setting high future performance goals, including an August initiative to improve the district’s reading, writing and math test scores -- as well as its attendance and graduation rates -- to 90 percent by 2020. Among other steps, Browder pledged to change ASD’s controversial “Everyday Math” program, panned by some parents as hard to understand.
Those goals soon came into conflict with harsh budget cuts at the district, with a 100-position cut announced in November expanding in January to a proposed loss of 215 positions under a Browder budget designed to bridge a $25 million shortfall in school funding. Critics said the cuts were disproportionately heavy on special education staff, as well as high-school career resource advisors who help students transition to college.
The first news of Browder’s upcoming departure from the district came late on March 1, in a statement from ASD saying he was seeking to leave due to ailing family members in Georgia. A few days later, Browder explained his decision to the Anchorage School Board by calling himself a dad first and a superintendent second.
Browder was still looking for another job earlier this month, recently becoming one of three finalists for a superintendent’s spot with Des Moines Public Schools in Iowa. Last week, however, that district instead hired its interim superintendent, Thomas Ahart.
Mackie says Browder's contract doesn't have a buyout option, and he'll be paid as usual until June 14. He won't be required to pay back his moving costs, for which he was reimbursed by ASD.
"We are not going to dwell on the things that happened in the past," Mackie said. "We are grateful for the things that Dr. Browder brought to the district."
Channel 2’s Corey Allen-Young contributed information to this story.
This is a developing story. Please check KTUU.com and the Channel 2 newscasts for updates.
Contact Chris Klint