FDEA to remain in receivership

“I don’t want us to have a third year with a deficit”

By JANE GEORGE

The Francophone District Education Authority, le conseil scolaire francophone d’Iqaluit, will remain in receivership until Nunavut government officials receive audited statements and are satisfied they know how the board racked up its deficit in the first place.

That’s what the newly elected FDEA board members heard this week when they met for the second time at Iqaluit’s Ecole des Trois-Soleils.

Suzanne Lefebvre, director of French programs and services at Nunavut’s department of education, who took over as the FDEA’S interim trustee on Sept. 12, said she would stay on until the board’s finances are straightened out.

“I am asking you to be patient,” Lefebvre said.

Lebebvre submitted the FDEA’s budget for 2003-4. The total budget for the small district is $203,836.

This amount, most of which comes from Heritage Canada, includes administrative and board expenses as well as preschool and after-school programs. Teachers’ salaries are covered by the territorial government.

Lefebvre said the budget is “very conservative” with respect to its expense projections.

“I don’t want us to have a third year with a deficit,” she said.

Lefebvre will continue to verify and approve all expenses made by the school, although during the meeting, two cheque signers from the department of education were replaced by two FDEA members, president Carolyn Mallory and Jacques Fortier.

Ron Janusaitis, director of special projects for the GN’s department of executive and intergovernmental affairs, is now interim school director.

Janusaitis, an experienced former school principal and administrator, is replacing school director Denis Deragon, at least until the end of November.

The FDEA was put in receivership as the result of increasing complaints against the board from parents, members of the francophone community, and even FDEA board members who cited potential conflicts, financial disarray and an overall lack of credibility.

Money from the school’s budget was said to have been spent on lawyers’ fees to oppose Bill 1, the proposed Nunavut education act.

At this week’s meeting, new board members reaffirmed their commitment to more openness and better communication with parents of students at the school, by means of newsletters, telephone calls, e-mails and trilingual meetings twice a year.

The FDEA’s meetings are usually held in French.

As one of its first actions, the FDEA plans to ask for more French-language services from the Qikiqtani School Operations, so correspondence and job interviews for potential employees, for example, will be in French.

“I want to make a request that the services we receive from them be in French,” said Paul Landry, a new FDEA member as well as president of the Association des francophones du Nunavut.

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