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Soodjai Kutrakun’s position to be eliminated

Longtime member of community may not be at Ballard in the future

Elsa Anderson, Staff Reporter
Originally published June 16, 2017

Miles WhitworthSoodjai Kutrakun outside the security office. Kutrakun has been an important figure to many students at school for over 30 years.

Miles Whitworth

Soodjai Kutrakun outside the security office. Kutrakun has been an important figure to many students at school for over 30 years.

After thirty six years of service to the District, Soodjai Kutrakun’s position as Violence Prevention Specialist has been cut from the 2017-2018 budget. As of now, he does not have a job with the District for the next school year.

“In the district budget cuts for the 17-18 school year, even with the additional money they got with the resolution with the levy cliff, they pushed a large majority of that money back into schools to protect school cuts, but that meant that all the cuts that were still in place would be ones that were directed to the central office, or positions that were not teachers, principals, librarians, in schools,” Principal Keven Wynkoop said. “And so there’s a lot of pretty heavy cuts and one of the positions that is very unique to the district that they cut was Soodjai’s position.”

“I’m gonna miss what I’m doing with the kids a lot. I mean the contact. You know, you have to enjoy what you’re doing and I enjoy working with the students and the families,” he said.
Some students have expressed frustration about losing Kutrakun for the coming years.
“He actually really cares about the people he talks to, he doesn’t just fake it, which some teachers don’t do but he’s just really sincere and he’s really nice and fun to talk to,” Junior Sophia Konugres said. “I think he will be very missed next year.”

Many students may not know that Kutrakun works for the district, not for the school.
“My job, I go from building to building to make contact with the kids who get in trouble and investigate between the buildings,” Kutrakun said.

Kutrakun would like an opportunity to show the people at the downtown district office the worth of his position to the community. “They never know what I’m doing. They need to listen. I don’t just sit in the office and make decisions. They need to know what I’m really doing,” he said. “Especially in our Ballard community. It’s like I grew up here. I know all the families. My two kids graduated from here.”

Twenty years ago, former superintendent John Stanford kept Kutrakun from being eliminated from the district. “He and I sat down and created my job title and created what I should do with the community. He said, ‘You’re the outreach to the families who are from Southeast Asia – Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Chinese.’ I’m the one connection to the Southeast Asian community and he saw that as really important.”

Since he has been with the district for so long, Kutrakun feels as if he should be able to decide when he wants to leave. “You know, this is my thirty sixth year with the district, and suddenly they decide, ‘We no longer need you.’ Why don’t they let me decide when it’s time to leave? No, they just decide ‘You’re too old whatever, you need to leave.’ That’s why I feel it’s not fair. Let me decide,” he said. “Thirty six years, they decide we don’t need you Soodjai. Full time since 1980. That’s commitment. I love what I’m doing.”
Kutrakun said that if students want to help, they can “walk to the [district] superintendent and tell them that they need to listen.”

“Whenever we have to do those surveys in sixth period about who we can talk to as like an admin person, he’s always the only guy I can think of because he’s really accepting and doesn’t judge you,” Konugres said.

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Soodjai Kutrakun’s position to be eliminated