Letters to the Editor

Posted: Sunday, February 10, 2002

Charter schools are part of system; they provide alternative choice

Last Monday, nine parents and two teachers from Fireweed Academy ( formerly known as the Charter School) drove to Soldotna to attend the Kenai Peninsula Borough school board meeting. The contract for the school was up for renewal. We went to show our support and tell them how well our children are thriving at Fireweed Academy.

Our contract has been renewed for five years, and we thank the school board.

We noticed some confusion from other people there at the meeting. Mainly, people do not understand what a charter school is. We are part of the public school system. There are no fees for a child to attend.

We have the same guidelines as every other school in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.

Charter schools are an alternative school, each with its own guidelines yet containing everything the school district requires of the students.

Our school has brought new children into the district who were previously home or privately schooled. Therefore we generated new funds for the school district. Some students have come from West Elementary and McNeil, some tried the school and it wasn't for them.

We have also brought over $200,000 in federal grant funds to our district.

To me and the other parents and children who go to Fireweed Academy, our school provides a school that works for our children.

It's great to have choices. Again, I thank the school board members for allowing us to tell them how we feel about our school, and providing us with choices.

Michele Bournonville


Bishop Creek timber sale raises questions that should be answered

I'm writing this letter concerning the proposed timber sales in the North Kenai area by the Mental Health Land Office. There are several parcels up for bid; the one that concerns me is in section 16, which includes the north and northeast shores of Bishop Lake, and approximately three-quarters of a mile of the outfall of Bishop Creek.

This is the headwaters of a pristine and largely undeveloped anadromous watershed system. This sale is not a spruce bark beetle issue. This parcel and surrounding forests are in healthy and pristine condition.

True, I am biased. Being a homeowner located within the boundaries of the proposed sale, I will suffer losses both of property value and lifestyle. But the entire community will lose a prime recreational area with a historical use spanning decades.

Once logged, wildlife will be displaced and the aesthetic value will be lost. But, worse yet, is taking a chance of damaging yet another anadromous watershed system. I say this because due to the natural lay of the land, a large portion of the sale slopes toward the lake and creek, setting up a situation for disaster from sediment pollution, especially during the spring runoff season.

Healthy runs of red salmon, silver salmon, rainbow trout, and numerous other species of fish rely on this portion of the watershed system for spawning and rearing. These, in turn, support a large and diverse population of wildlife and migratory and local bird life.

This sale could have a cascading effect spanning decades. Have we learned nothing from past mistakes? Is the value of wood chips so high it exceeds the value of our lifestyles? And how can the state spend millions of dollars on salmon habitat restoration, enhancement and protection, then turn and offer a pristine spawning area to large-scale logging?

These questions and many more need to be addressed before another of our natural resources is in need of restoration and re-habitation.

Bill Boutilier

North Kenai

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