The N.W.T. government says it will fully fund the expansion of the territory's junior kindergarten, in a swift reversal of its position only two months ago.
Robert C. McLeod, the minister of Finance, confirmed Wednesday that the government will provide the full $5.1-million budget to expand the program to all communities in the territory.
"We realized this was an investment we had to make," said McLeod.
New JK funding of $2.7 million announced
In early December, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment asked school boards across the territory to reallocate approximately $3 million from their budgets to help fund the initiative.
School boards have balked at that demand, saying they would have to cut teacher positions and other programs.
McLeod said that after hearing from regular MLAs as well as people during recent trips to communities, it became clear that junior kindergarten funding was a major issue of concern.
In his budget address, McLeod said "We have added $1.5 million to the budget to help offset the costs of the junior kindergarten program as it is rolled out in all Northwest Territories communities ... I am also committing today that we will add an additional $2.7 million to the funding for schools before the end of the 18th Legislative Assembly to ensure that the junior kindergarten program can be implemented in all communities."
The new money, $2.7 million, is not currently earmarked for school boards for this fall, but McLeod said if implementation requires the funding be provided earlier, the government will consider doing that.