Nunavut’s education minister admits small error in student count

New formula for school funding in the works

By COURTNEY EDGAR

David Joanasie, Nunavut's minister of education, told the legislature on Oct. 25 that his department's headcount of students in Iqaluit was off by just one kindergarten student. The Iqaluit District Education Authority, meanwhile, contends the count was off by 44 students, and that as a result, the city has been shortchanged funding for teaching stuff and the DEA. (FILE PHOTO)


David Joanasie, Nunavut’s minister of education, told the legislature on Oct. 25 that his department’s headcount of students in Iqaluit was off by just one kindergarten student. The Iqaluit District Education Authority, meanwhile, contends the count was off by 44 students, and that as a result, the city has been shortchanged funding for teaching stuff and the DEA. (FILE PHOTO)

Nunavut Education Minister David Joanasie faced questions in the legislature last week about an ongoing controversy between his department and the Iqaluit District Education Authority.

The DEA maintains that the Department of Education’s count of students in the district was off by 44 students, and that, as a result, Iqaluit received less money for teaching staff, school programming and its DEA.

Joanasie told the legislature during a minister’s statement on Oct. 25, however, that the count was off by just one half-time kindergarten student.

During question period later that day, Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Lightstone questioned whether this is really the conclusion drawn by a departmental audit of the disputed headcount.

“In the results of the audit, a number of the students were deleted from the student attendance register that actually were listed as having attendance greater than 40 per cent, as well as other students that were deleted for instances of suspension or transfers out to other schools after Sept. 30,” Lightstone said.

“I am curious how the minister came up with the final results showing an error of only one kindergarten student.”

Lightstone also asked Joanasie to provide the definition of a non-attending student. Such students are excluded from the headcount.

Joanasie replied that a student must maintain at least a 60 per cent attendance rate. Lightstone then corrected him, saying that students actually must maintain an attendance rate of 40 per cent in order to be included in the headcount.

Joanasie apologized for the confusion. He didn’t directly address Lightstone’s suggestion that the audit found further problems beyond the uncounted kindergarten student.

But he did say that a new formula for counting students is in the works.

“We are working on a new formula that I’ll hopefully bring into cabinet and maybe in the winter sitting hopefully we will, as I said in my minister’s statement, address the issues that we are currently facing with the Iqaluit DEA,” Joanasie said.

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