SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


RE: Distancing
By Eileen Truitt


August 19, 2008
Tuesday PM

Dear Editor,

In response to the numerous letters Ms. Svenson has written over the past several months harassing the Kanayama Board Members, I wish to clarify some of the misleading information she has been disseminating to the public. First off, there was never a question of her daughter not being smart, or not popular, or any of the other accusations made against others and myself. This is not an individual travel program it is a group program. Students are required to work with the group to build relationships here to make travel successful. The reason Ms. Svenson s daughter was dropped from the program was because she did not quite honestly participate with the group in numerous activities.

In regards to the appeal process, there were numerous attempts by the board to inform the student as to what was expected of her. There was no change until the official drop had been made a month later. The families attended at least three board meetings to appeal and were told several times as to what was expected if their daughter were to continue in the exchange program.

Ms. Svenson has numerous times referred to the monies involved in the process and how she lost her contribution. She was refunded all her monies that she put into the program. The fundraising efforts however are not refunded to an individual person as the monies were raised to support the program. Ms. Svenson neglected to mention that the $72,000 raised this past year also included the $36,000 paid by families as their part of the travel. This money paid for part of the airfare, the rest came out of the remaining monies that were fundraised for travel expenses while in Japan. I realize that she says that a grand of total of $139,000 was extracted from the community this past year; she does not have her numbers correct. This past year there were 4 chaperones and 19 students that traveled. Personal contributions of $34,000 were paid total fundraising was $38,000. Other monies she is counting are the monies that were paid by the Borough and School District covered the salary for teacher to Kanayama. In exchange for this the school district has the benefit of a teacher from Kanayama and can offer Japanese as a foreign language at the middle school level. Please note that the salary paid is almost half of what the starting salary is for a new teacher here in Ketchikan.

School Board members are not required to be on the board. Ginny Clay was a Kanayama Board member before she was on the school board. She, as many others of us joined the board after our children were involved in the program.

In regards to the "secret" meeting, the minutes reflect that the meeting was a "special" meeting, as it was not held at our regular meeting time. Yes Mr. Boyle was present; she commented that Mr. Boyle then left the meeting,, that was because he had another commitment to get to.

And as for revising the student applications, these are reviewed EVERY year and revised as needed. Ms. Svenson makes no mention of the numerous hours of volunteer time that the board puts into this program for what she calls a paltry trip to Japan.

Eileen Truitt
Kanayama Board Member and Past Chaperone
Ketchikan, AK

Received August 19, 2008 - Published August 19, 2008


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Ketchikan, Alaska