Dr. Browder: ASD needs to think big

Superintendent outlines goals at chamber meeting


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Anchroage School District Superintendent Dr. Jim Browder gestures while speaking at the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, Nov. 7 at Bear Mountain Grill in Eagle River. Dr. Browder outlined his goals for the district, including getting every student in the district to attend at least 90 percent of classes and working with the state to provide dual enrollment in Alaska colleges for free to the state’s high school students.

Matt Tunseth

Dr. Jim Browder isn’t afraid to think big.

The new Anchorage School District superintendent shared his lofty goals for the state’s largest district during an energetic address to the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce on Nov. 7 at Bear Mountain Grill in Eagle River. Among the most ambitious plans Dr. Browder shared was his goal to have the state offer high school students free “dual enrollment” in college course while they’re still in high school.

“Providing that for any Alaskan that’s in high school would really help us as a state,” Browder said.

At his former district in Florida, Browder said a similar program allowed many students to leave high school with a college-level associate’s degree under their belts. Such an initiative in Alaska, he argued, would both cut college costs for Alaskan families and also keep more students in the University of Alaska system.

“Those youngsters won’t go Outside to go to school,” he said.

Browder also outlined his “Destination 2020” goals, which seek to have 90 percent proficiency across the board by students in reading, writing and math — along with a 90 percent graduation rate and having every student attend at least 90 percent of his or her classes.

“The lowest achieving group of our students are also the lowest attending group,” Browder said.

Browder took over from Carol Comeau this spring after spending nearly eight years leading the Lee County School District in Florida. He said he wanted to come to Anchorage because of the groundwork laid by his predecessor in the nearly 50,000-student ASD.

“I believed we were poised to step to the next level,” he said.

Among his other goals for the district, he said, will be to ensure that every student’s curriculum is posted online for parents to follow along with and making sure the district is teaching to “Common Core” standards that are uniform from school to school.

Browder also told the chamber that he believes parents need more choices in education. He said he wants to implement a system in which students are allowed to choose between a variety of diverse programs throughout the district tailored for their individual needs.

“We need to provide choice for all students,” he said.

Browder said he also wants to make sure the district’s budget — which currently stands at $737 million — is kept as “lean” as possible. One of his first pieces of business, he said, was to slash nearly $3 million in the form of administrative cuts.

“My goal is to get the district level really lean,” he said.

Browder acknowledged his goals are ambitious. But he said he’s excited about the challenges ahead and is eager to see the district become one of the best in the nation.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” he said.

 

Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or matt.tunseth@alaskastar.com

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