Browder's next gig could be Alaska
FORT MYERS - Former Lee County superintendent Dr. James Browder flying to Anchorage, Alaska this week for a job interview.
After being considered for jobs in Broward County, Nevada and Tennessee, Browder is one of two finalists for a superintendent job in Anchorage.
"I would certainly hope that you and everybody else as you look at what I've done, you judge me as a K-12 person for 36 years," Browder told Alaskan TV station KTBY-TV. "As opposed to a 5 1/2, 6 month stint at a state college where it really didn't work out and I didn't fit in."
Last May, Edison State College voted to terminate Browder's contract offering him $175,000 to walk away.
Now he's interviewing for the top job in Anchorage - the largest district in the state.
Anchorage school board member Don Smith says he was impressed with Browder's background, noting that he seems "very well qualified."
But Smith says he plans to ask Browder about a number of things we have reported on - like transportation troubles in Lee County, his salary, why he quit the school board and his management style.
"We got to work with this person daily for the next upteen years," said Smith. "So you want to make sure we make the right decision."
Smith says about eight to 10 Lee County residents have been emailing him criticizing Browder.
"They seem very rabid," said Smith. "To the extent that they would try to figure out how to get a hold of us and shoot off an email."
"Frankly," he said, "I have never seen this much animosity shown by people that have no ax to grind."
Smith says he plans to take those emails into consideration.
Browder will be in Anchorage Thursday, Friday and Saturday for meetings, interviews and a meet-and-greet with the community.
"How much of his past and the controversies that are surrounding him are going to weigh in on your decisions in Alaska?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.
"Well just so you know this information was not, we knew about it when he made the final cut," said Smith.
About 150 people nationwide applied for the job. Browder is now in the final two.
The job pays between $160-$200K per year.
Smith says he will ask Browder this week about the emails and concerns of some Lee County residents.
"They seem to really be really about it," said Smith. "So it's certainly something you want to find out, you want to know what kind of personality the person really has."