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ASD superintendent named as candidate for position in Iowa

Alaska Dispatch

Anchorage School District Superintendent James Browder announced Friday that he would be seeking employment in the Lower 48 due to a family health crisis, but said a departure from Alaska wasn't official and he remains committed to the district. But the Des Moines School Board in Iowa has named Browder as one of three finalists in its search for a new superintendent.

The Des Moines School Board posted on its website Saturday that Browder was issued an invitation to be interviewed for the position. It also states Des Moines parents will be able to meet all three candidates during public receptions next week. Browder's reception is set for Wednesday.

Browder accepted the Anchorage superintendent position just last summer, beginning his tenure in July. On Friday evening, the district sent out an email explaining that the newly hired superintendent may leave Anchorage shortly "in order to be closer to members of his immediate family who are dealing with significant medical issues."

"This is a very serious personal situation for Jim and his family and our hearts go out to them," Anchorage School Board President Jeannie Mackie said in a press release. "We understand that family must come first."

Mackie said the board had been discussing the issue with Browder for weeks and learned Friday that he was being considered as a candidate for another job, the Anchorage Daily News reported. Browder's family is in Georgia, according to an email Browder sent his staff.

Des Moines and Georgia are separated by more than 1,000 miles.

The district went on to note it would be working with Browder to establish a succession timeline. It said Browder would continue to lead until a replacement was announced.

Anchorage's district is larger than the Outside school district. ASD handles about 50,000 students. Des Moines Public Schools, Iowa's largest provider of public schools, covers more than 30,000 students and employs 5,000 teachers, according to its own website.

Browder unveiled his 2013-2014 school budget in January, which called for cutting 215 positions and reducing spending by $25 million. According to the district's 2012 annual report, it employed 5,821 people. The report says the district intends to cut that number of employees down to 4,935 by 2020. The trends of declining revenue and growing benefit costs are to blame for the cuts, the report says.

There was no friction related to the staff cuts or other issues that caused Browder's departure, Mackie told ADN.