We need more financial support: Nunavut DEAs
“They are struggling right now”
Nunavut’s district education authorities are struggling to carry out programs, Nikki Eegeesiak, executive director of the Coalition of Nunavut District Education Authorities, said Oct. 25 at the Nunavut district education authorities annual general meeting in Iqaluit.
A report commissioned by the coalition, given out to delegates, shows a 43 per cent increase in the duties that DEAs are responsible for.
The coalition wants a similar amount of money to be added to DEA budgets.
The increased workload comes after a new Education Act was passed by the Government of Nunavut in 2008.
“It basically lists tools and resources that they are currently missing in order to do their duties and responsibilities under the new Education Act,” Eegeesiak said.
The report gives a good picture of where the DEAs are lacking because for years they’ve been saying they don’t have enough resources, and that is why the coalition did the research, she said.
The DEAs do get money for programs, but there is no administrative cost taken into account, she added.
Administrators right now are highly stressed and spend additional time on work without being paid: “they are struggling right now.”
“That’s the main reason why we did the research for them, so that we could start lobbying for this research,” Eegeesiak said.
The report states that the Department of Education’s financial formula for DEAs is largely based on school enrolment and, despite some adjustments, has “not adequately addressed the burden” and complexity of DEA duties.
For example, in 2010 Clyde River allocated wages and benefits of $18,396 for administration, $96,067 for casual workers, $29,412 for programs and $77,515 for other programs for a total of $221,390.
These figures should be topped up by 43 per cent, the coalition argues in the report.
That means office costs would move from $18,396 to $26,289 and so on. The total would increase to $316,271.
Right now, DEAs have a total of 49 responsibilities, 28 old and 21 new, the report points out.
However, “financial reports from the DEAs have also been elusive due to some confusion on the part of DEAs and the agencies responsible for reviewing and auditing their financial statements,” the report said.
This reflects education authorities being overwhelmed with their current workload, it said.
Other concerns discussed at the meeting included student attendance, anti-bullying efforts, suicide prevention, a need for more staff, including casual employees and guidance counsellors, a need more money for new programs and more authority for the coalition.
“The main one is having full time qualified office managers. Some communities don’t even have office mangers,” Eegeesiak said.
“We heard [a] strong voice from the members to start working on this [to] start working on it now instead of waiting three months, six months, next year or whatever.”
Plans are in place for the chair of the coalition to meet with Premier Eva Aariak, also Nunavut’s minister of education, next month, she said.