Kugaaruk’s new school to be completed in 2019, Nunavut government says

But the new facility will have a "resource centre," not a library


Kugaardjuq school was destroyed in an overnight fire March 1, 2017. A new facility has been designed and should be constructed and open by August 2019, Nunavut's Department of Education announced this past week. (FILE PHOTO)

Kugaardjuq school was destroyed in an overnight fire March 1, 2017. A new facility has been designed and should be constructed and open by August 2019, Nunavut’s Department of Education announced this past week. (FILE PHOTO)

(Updated, March 16, 2 p.m.)

Kugaaruk’s new school is on track to be completed and open to students in time for the 2019-20 school year, Nunavut MLAs heard in the legislature this week.

The old Kugaardjuq School was completely destroyed in a March 2017 fire.

As the Kitikmeot community’s only school, its roughly 300 students and 45 staff have since relocated to temporary portables and various locations until the new facility is built.

But the new school, estimated to cost about $40 million, won’t have a library, Kugaaruk’s MLA Emiliano Qirngnuq recently learned.

“We think that there should be a library because we learn while we read. Are there plans to add a library?” Qirngnuq asked Education Minister David Joanasie during a committee of the whole meeting, looking at departmental budget requests, March 8.

Joanasie said the design of the new school was planned in collaboration with Kugaaruk’s district education authority. But as part of that planning, the department found that most reading material is now computerized and accessible digitally.

“We can put a whole library into one computer,” Joanasie said.

On March 16, six days after the first version of this story was published online, a civil servant from the Department of Education contacted Nunatsiaq News to clarify the issue, saying the building will use a “resource centre” model that will include printed books.

“We would like the point clarified that the facility will have all of the necessary resources including both electronic and hard copy texts,” the spokesperson said.

“The point isn’t that there will be no library, but that the design of the building will incorporate a more flexible ‘resource centre’ model that will incorporate a book room as well as mobile computer labs,” the spokesperson said.

Qirngnuq said he’s grateful for the new facility, but noted that some Inuit are not computer literate.

Otherwise, the new school has been designed to accommodate a larger population of about 450 students. The new facility will have 21 classrooms, including a trades room, a science room and multi-purpose classrooms.

The building will also feature administrative offices, a resource centre, a gymnasium, and a daycare centre, MLAs heard.

The school’s planning and construction budget for the year—$21.9 million—makes up more than half of the proposed $40.5 million capital estimates budget for the Department of Education in 2018-19.

Another $9.5 million will go to the completion of the new high school in Cape Dorset, which is in its third and final year of construction. Peter Pitseolak school was also destroyed in a 2015 fire.

The new Cape Dorset school should be completed by August 2018.

In both Kugaaruk and Cape Dorset’s school fires, local youth were charged with arson in relation to the fires.

Adam Arreak Lightstone, MLA for Iqaluit-Manirajak, told the committee of the whole that he supported the Department of Education’s efforts to implement security measures at Nunavut’s schools, such as CCTV cameras.

“[We] encourage the minister to work with his officials in considering further options for combating the ongoing threat of vandalism and damage to school facilities and school playgrounds,” he told Joanasie March 8.

This version of the story contains a clarification supplied by a spokesperson from the Nunavut Department of Education.

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