Capital budget for Nunavut’s education department “reflects reality of fiscal restraint”
$16.9 million-budget goes mainly to ongoing projects
With only $16.9 million to spend on school construction and renovation in 2013-14, Premier Eva Aariak, who is also Nunavut’s education minister, spelled out where that money will go Oct. 31 during the Nunavut legislature’s committee of the whole review of capital spending estimates for the education department.
“This budget reflects the reality of fiscal restraint which is being implemented throughout the Government of Nunavut,” Aariak said.
Most of the $16.9 million for that fiscal year will go to a number of existing projects for the territory’s 43 schools, which serve 8,525 students from kindergarten to Grade 12: 1,480 in the Kitikmeot region, 2,975 in the Kivalliq region, and 4,069 in the Qikiqtani region.
“We have one new project: the planning of a new middle school for Baker Lake. The planning stage for this initiative will cost approximately $50,000 this upcoming year,” Aariak said.
The Jonah Amitnaaq secondary school in Baker Lake is now at 85 per cent capacity, she said, with 325 students in a school with a capacity of 382 students.
The community’s Rachel Arngnamaktiq elementary school, which serves Kindergarten to Grade 5, is now at 72 per cent capacity, with 227 students and room for a maximum of 313 students.
“It is being recognized that they’re going to need more rooms, so they’re going to do some planning for the middle school,” Aariak said.
Projects across Nunavut that will continue during the 2013-14 fiscal year include:
• renovation of the Qiqirtaq School in Gjoa Haven for $9.3 million;
• work on the planning and design of the addition to the Levi Angmak School in Arviat for $1.5 million;
• work on the renovations at Inuksuk High School in Iqaluit for $100,000; and,
• completion of the school renovations in Qikiqtarjuaq, which include upgrade of the school and community learning centre, for $50,000.
During committee-of-the-whole discussions on the department’s capital budget, MLAs also said they were concerned about housing for teachers.
Quttiktuq MLA Ron Elliott, speaking as chairman of the standing committee, said MLAs “recognize that efforts are being made within the department to address urgent housing needs, such as the plans to convert portable classroom units into housing units once school renovations are complete, or by grouping teachers into shared units.”
“However, members continue to hear of situations where teachers are living in uncomfortable conditions which, in turn, affect their ability to properly deliver educational programming,” he said.
Other MLAs wanted to know more about the GN’s plans to build new daycares.
Aariak said there was no separate capital project budget for new daycare centres “as we have no capital funds for construction of the centres”
Bu she said these are built on to new schools or added when a school needs an extension, if there is no daycare centre in the community.