Iqaluit's education authority in spat with gov't over how students were counted
DEA says government's student count was off by 44 students, short-changing funding
The chair of Iqaluit's District Education Authority (DEA) says its students are losing out on thousands of dollars in funding because of when the territory's Department of Education counted the student population.
Based on the DEA's numbers, the schools are entitled to three more teaching positions, according to their chair. The authority would also get thousands of dollars more funding from the education department if their numbers were used.
The funding goes to local school programming, including on-the-land activities and bringing elders into the classroom.
Even after admitting they'd made mistakes, the department didn't make any changes to this year's teaching complement, said Workman.
"We've seen the numbers, we see the reports," he said. "We know that our principals' numbers are correct."
Difference of 44 students
The DEA used student numbers gathered by the principals of its four schools — Nakasuk Elementary, Joamie Elementary, Inuksuk High School, and Aqsarniit Middle School — to come to a total student population for the city of 1,349.
The department says there are only 1,305.5 students, which is a discrepancy of 43.5 students. Kindergarten students only count as half students for the purpose of the count, because they don't attend full time.
Student counts done in one year are used to decide how much funding schools get for the following year.
The discrepancy exists because of when the government chose to count the students. Workman says the accepted practice has always been to sample the student population on Sept. 30.
Last year, the government chose to take the count in mid-November.
"If they're going to make a change, they should have told everybody," Workman said.
After becoming aware of the discrepancy in January, the authority asked to meet with the department and the minister of education, David Joanasie.
At Joanasie's request, the department completed an audit of the student numbers, and Workman says when they presented their findings to the DEA in the spring, they admitted they'd made mistakes.
"When we did the audits, they said nothing can be done this year, and basically I felt, tough luck, too bad," Workman said.
"This government assured everybody in Nunavut that education was a priority and I think it's just another piece of lip service."
The DEA entered into discussions with the minister and the department about the discrepancy, but didn't get anywhere.
As a last resort, the education authority's board members met with local MLAs in Iqaluit.
Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Arreak Lightstone says he'll bring the issue up in the legislature during the next sitting, which begins Tuesday.
Joanasie says he will meet with the DEA again to see if there is a way to move forward.