Jackson-Madison County Schools Superintendent candidate James Browder told board members Monday night that he's a "no nonsense kind of guy with strengths in K-12 education" while candidate Thomas "Buddy" White shared with the board that it "wouldn't find anyone who will work any harder or hold the community closer to their heart" than he would.
Board members asked Browder and White the same 12 questions, which covered various subjects including discipline, recommendations for student success and employee assessment.
Browder, 63, is a retired superintendent from Lee County Schools in Fort Myers, where he worked for more than seven years. He left his last job as senior vice president of operations at Edison State College on May 2 by "mutual agreement," he said.
He referred to himself during his interview as a "high school principal by trade."
"I'm a K-12 person. I believe that's where I'm a better fit and this district matches well with what I'm used to," Browder told board members.
On personnel issues, Browder said he's "firm, fair and without favor."
"We have to be a team and work together and I'll do my part to ensure there's a quality person in every school," he said.
He praised the district's strategic plan but didn't ask board members any questions at the end of his interview.
"If I'm fortunate enough to come here, I'll ask the tough questions," he said.
Browder did, however, inform the board that he is aware of the issues facing the district.
"There is a perception that the board doesn't get along well, that there is micromanaging (of the superintendent)," Browder said. "We'll have to work together, stand together as a team because that's critical. Will you practice patience with me if I'm your person?"
Browder said his biggest concern about the position is the distance from his two children — both educators, one in Fort Myers and the other in Atlanta.
Following the interview, Browder spoke briefly to The Jackson Sun about his impression of the board.
"They're a good group, and they had some great questions," he said. "They have five other capable candidates, so it's a matter of matching the right person to the district."
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