GN, coalition, ponder future of Apex school body
For third election in a row, no full slate emerges
For the third straight election year, the chief returning officer had to ask twice to find candidates for the seven seats on the Apex District Education Authority.
Each time, Kirt Ejesiak eventually found someone, but never enough to fill the DEA’s seven seats.
This year, after a one-week extension of the deadline for the nomination of candidates, three Apex residents came forward to run. Anne Crawford, Amanda Ford and Jack Hicks were all acclaimed Sept. 24.
Ejesiak said until those candidates stepped up, he was considering a recommendation in his report on the election that the Apex DEA be disbanded.
They’ll be responsible for appointing four others to fill the remaining seats.
But it raises the question, does the Apex DEA, which oversees just one, two-teacher elementary school, need to exist at all? The answer appears to be yes, but not an enthusiastic one.
Alice Ladner, the executive director of the Coalition of Nunavut DEAs, suggested rolling the Iqaluit and Apex DEAs into one, with more than seven seats, including guaranteed representation for Apex.
She said all but “one or two” of Nunavut’s other DEAs had enough candidates to either fill all seven seats or have an election.
But the education department needs to consult with Apex parents before making any decisions, Ladner said, suggesting a town hall meeting for parents of Nanook School.
“We need to find out what the problem is with the Apex DEA, whether it’s a lack of interest by parents or whether they don’t think the school is large enough,” she said.
Kathy Okpik, the deputy minister of education, said it isn’t unusual for DEAs in smaller communities to have trouble finding a full slate of candidates.
Even Cambridge Bay, in 2006, had its entire DEA board acclaimed, she said.
And considering that three people eventually came forward for the Apex DEA, Okpik said her department must first meet with the new members of the board.
And she agrees with Ladner that any proposed changes must also go before the community first.
“I can’t presuppose that the community would want something different,” she said. “You always have to do a consultation.”
The Iqaluit DEA also lacks a full slate of members, with only five people coming forward for seven seats.
In an interview, Hicks admitted he thought about whether the Apex DEA should be folded into the Iqaluit one.
But said he stood for a seat on the DEA “to try and do the right thing for the school.”
“It turns out I wasn’t the only one who was thinking that way,” he said.
As for whether the DEA should continue to exist, “that’s not my call to make,” he said.
Hicks said he planned to meet soon with Ford and Crawford to talk about how to fill the rest of the board. Hicks also said he’d like to see a formal breakfast program at Nanook School.
The new DEA boards take over as the education department prepared to hold a three-day workshop on the new Education Act, passed in 2008.
Both Okpik and Hicks said the new act gives DEAs much greater authority over school operations than before, including, Hicks said, for early childhood development programs.
“There’s a mountain of evidence roughly the size of Nunavut that early childhood development programs can pay huge benefits to society as well as to individual children,” he said.